What Hillary Clinton Wants in a Supreme Court Justice

Clinton has not named names of who she'd nominate to SCOTUS if she's elected.

ByABC News
October 24, 2016, 3:22 PM

— -- Following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, President Obama nominated another judge, Merrick Garland, to the high court. But the highly-coveted seat has remained empty since the March nomination -- and now the next president is likely to inherit the responsibility of nominating the next justice.

Republican nominee Donald Trump has released his list of potential Supreme Court justices, but his Democratic opponent has not been specific about her possible choices if Garland is not confirmed.

Clinton has continued to praise Garland and call for his confirmation, before his nomination expires in December.

"I would hope that the Senate would do its job and confirm the nominee that President Obama has sent to them," Clinton said, making her case for Garland during the third presidential debate last week. "That's the way the Constitution fundamentally should operate. The president nominates and the Senate advises and consents, or not. But they go forward with the process."

But it remains an open question whether Clinton, if she is elected, would submit Garland’s name for re-nomination or consider other options.

If given the opportunity, Clinton said that she would "look broadly and widely for people who represent the diversity of our country" in an interview with the Tom Joyner Morning Show in September.

She offered more hints about the kind of justice she is looking for in the second debate.

"I want to appoint Supreme Court justices who understand the way the world really works, who have real life experience, who have not just been in a big law firm or clerk for a judge and then gotten on the bench," Clinton said.

She added, "Maybe they tried some more cases and actually understand what people are up against."

Clinton also appears to want a justice who has experience with abortion and gay marriage cases.

Facing off against Trump in the third presidential debate in Las Vegas, Clinton argued, "We need a Supreme Court that will stand up on behalf of women's rights, on behalf of the rights of the LGBT community, that will stand up and say no to Citizens United, a decision that has undermined the election system in our country because of the way it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our electoral system."

Garland may not have those kinds of experiences. While Garland was formerly a partner for the law firm Arnold & Porter, the bulk of his career has been in government.

The Chicago native clerked for Judge Henry Friendly of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, a liberal judge.

As a principal associate deputy attorney general, Garland oversaw two notable cases -- the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombing and of the "Unabomber." Garland was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the D.C. Circuit Cour, which, as The New York Times noted, rarely deals with the kind of issues that come before the Supreme Court.

Clinton also said she felt strongly that the Supreme Court needs to "say no" to the Citizens United decision.

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United, Garland joined in on a decision in the 2010 case Speechnow.org v. FEC, which gave rise to what are now known as super PACs, according to the New York Times.

For now, Clinton is not naming names when it comes to the high court.

"I’m going to let this president serve out his term with distinction and make the decisions that he thinks are right," Clinton told the Tom Joyner Morning Show.