President Obama’s Short List, Take 2

By Jonathan Blakely

Apr 21, 2010 5:31pm

A White House aide confirms that Ann Claire Williams – a US Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit – is on President Obama’s proverbial short list of possible Supreme Court nominees, as first reported by Christi Parsons of the Chicago Tribune.

Williams joins the previous list we reported:

1.  Solicitor General Elena Kagan‪

2.  Judge Merrick Garland (DC Circuit Court)‪

3.  Judge Diane Wood (7th circuit, Chicago)‪

4.  Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm‪ (D)

5.  Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears‪

6.  Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano‪

7.  Harvard Law School dean Martha Minow‪

8. Judge Sidney Thomas (9th circuit, in San Francisco)

9. Ann Claire Williams (7th circuit, Chicago)

The guidance I’m getting is that the top five are Kagan‪, Garland, Wood, Napolitano‪ and Thomas.

The president and his team are taking any number of factors into consideration. Many, including President Clinton in our THIS WEEK interview over the weekend, are pushing the president to consider someone not from what Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vermont, calls the “judicial monastery,” i.e., a non-judge.

“Some of the best justices in the Supreme Court in history have been non-judges, people that – as Hugo Black once famously said, had been sheriffs and county judges, people that have seen how the lofty decisions of the Supreme Court affect the ordinary lives of Americans,” Clinton told me. “You know, I tried to persuade both Senator Mitchell and Governor Cuomo to accept appointments to the court and for different reasons, neither one wanted to do it.  I think they would have been fabulous justices.  And — George Mitchell had been a judge, but he was also a senator.  I think that — I hope he'll take a look at somebody who hasn't been a judge.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said after his meeting with President Obama today that “I hope that we would have someone who is not a circuit court judge. I personally feel it should be someone who is an academic, someone who has had a public office, someone who is an outstanding lawyer. And the president said that he will take that into consideration.”

There are still other considerations – which we will be covering on World News this evening. Tune in!


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