-- Speculation about a new Supreme Court justice is notoriously inaccurate, especially before an election and when there is no court vacancy. But here are a few key figures in the law who, because of their backgrounds and ages, could be in the mix:
•Paul Clement, 42, former U.S. solicitor general, now teaches at Georgetown University law school.
• Deborah Cook, 56, Akron-based judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.
•Maureen Mahoney, 54, Washington lawyer with an active Supreme Court practice.
• Michael McConnell, 53, Salt Lake City-based judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
•Diane Sykes, 51, Milwaukee-based judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
•Larry Thompson, 62, former deputy U.S. attorney general, now vice president and general counsel for PepsiCo.
•Elena Kagan, 48, dean of Harvard law school.
•Harold Hongju Koh, 54, dean of Yale law school.
•Deval Patrick, 52, former assistant U.S. attorney general, now Massachusetts governor.
• Sonia Sotomayor, 54, judge on the New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
•Cass Sunstein, 54, Harvard law professor.
•Diane Wood, 58, Chicago-based judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
By Joan Biskupic