April 12, 2010— -- Could Secretary of State Hillary Clinton really be in the mix to don a black robe on the bench of the nation's highest court?
The White House says the answer is "no," despite all the chatter in Washington today.
"The president thinks Secretary Clinton is doing an excellent job as secretary of state and wants her to remain in that position," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
The comments come after Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, created a stir earlier today when he told NBC's "Today" show that he believed Clinton was among the possible candidates to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
"I even heard the name Hillary Clinton today," Hatch said. "That would be an interesting person in the mix."
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs further tamped down on the idea, saying this afternoon, "The president is going to keep her [Clinton] as his secretary of state."
Gibbs added that while the White House appreciated Hatch's addition to its list, he preferred to highlight something else the Utah Senator said this morning.
"I think the portion of Sen. Hatch's comments that have gone less noticed are the comments that he thinks this has the ability and the potential to get done quite quickly," Gibbs said.
President Obama is said to be actively reviewing the credentials of at least 10 potential candidates to fill Stevens' soon-to-be vacant seat, and some had speculated Clinton could be among them.
"I happen to like Hillary Clinton," Hatch said. "I think she's done a good job for the Democrat secretary of state's position, and I have a huge respect for her and think a great deal of her."
Hatch is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold hearings on the future Supreme Court nominee and decide whether to pass the nomination onto the full Senate for an up-or-down vote.
The committee's top Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., appearing with Hatch this morning, said he's also fond of Clinton but did not elaborate on her chances as a nominee.
"I think she's done a good job for the country, not just for Democrats," he said.
But not everyone agrees that Clinton would be a good fit on the court or even receive a realistic chance at nomination.
"I don't think anyone seriously think she's under consideration," said Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director for the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative advocacy group.
"She'd be a polarizing figure. She's such a political person," she said. "It would be a worst-case scenario to nominate such a judicial activist ... she lives and breathes politics."
Extensive Legal Background
Ascension to the high court could be a logical next step for Clinton, who has an extensive legal background after graduating from Yale Law School in 1973.
Clinton cofounded the nonprofit, legal advocacy group Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families in 1977. She later became the first woman to chair the Legal Services Corp. in 1978 and the first female partner at the Little Rock, Ark., Rose law firm in 1979.
She applied her legal expertise to politics throughout the 1980s and 1990s, initially as first lady of Arkansas and later as first lady of the United States.
In 2000, Clinton became the first former first lady to run for public office, winning a seat in the U.S. Senate from New York. She lost a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 before joining the Obama administration as secretary of state.
Clinton emphatically said in October she has "absolutely no interest" in another presidential bid, telling ABC News', "I mean, I know that's hard for some people to believe, but, you know, I just -- I just don't..."