Monday, April 12, 2010

Finding a Justice Brennan to Fill Stevens' Spot Will Be Difficult

Slate Magazine: Justice Brennan Can't Be Reincarnated, by Seth Stern:

Justice Brennan Liberals can dream, but a consensus-builder has little to work with on today's Supreme Court.

With John Paul Stevens' announcement that he will retire at the end of the Supreme Court's current term, liberals' thoughts are turning to what an ideal replacement might look like.

Sonia Sotomayor proved last year that being a well-qualified and empathetic minority woman isn't necessarily enough for satisfying this base. Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild, complained at the time of Sotomayor's nomination that President Obama had "missed an opportunity to tap a liberal intellectual giant … who will have a major impact on the Court for years to come." Geoffrey Stone, the University of Chicago Law School professor, lamented in February about the absence of "any powerful liberal voice" on the court who could provide a strong counterpoint to the rhetorical firepower of Justice Antonin Scalia.

On Friday, Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, emphasized the importance of finding a nominee who "might be able to sway the court and lead it." The perfect progressive nominee, it seems, should be an intellectual giant, and also passionate, persuasive, and politically savvy enough to build consensus and outfox the court's conservatives. Cohn and Stone had a name that captured all their aspirations—Justice William J. Brennan Jr. . . .

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