It’s never too early to speculate, these days — even about Supreme Court appointments that may or may not happen in 2015. Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSBlog selected his picks for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement in a recent blog.
The top pick? Kamala Harris, the California AG heavily associated with the mortgage settlement.
Harris, who initially walked away from the settlement only to sign back on at the end and land the biggest chunk of change, has made a national name for herself. She also meets the list of common criteria that President Barack Obama has laid out for himself in past nominations: She’s female, she’s a minority, she’ll be about the right age at the time of the potential nomination (she’ll be 50 in 2015), and she doesn’t send out alarm bells for left-leaning ideology the GOP would hate.
Goldstein's prediction rests on several assumptions. Namely that Obama will be reelected, and that Ginsburg will retire during his second term. I won’t go into detail on the first assumption (though the recent uptick in the economy and the Republican wrestling match that is going on point to that being a sound assumption), but the second assumption is certainly a healthy one.
All signs indicate that Ginsburg would retire during Obama’s second term. Mostly because justices want to be replaced with someone just like themselves, so they retire while a president who aligns with them ideologically is in office. It is well known that Ginsburg leans to the left. Additionally, as Goldstein points out in his blog, she noted her similarities to Justice Brandeis when she was asked about her retirement. Bradeis retired at 82, and Ginsburg will turm 82 in Obama’s (potential) third year of his second term.
While it’s far away, it’s an interesting prospect. Obama has made it a goal to make the Court more diverse, and Harris definitely fits that bill. The only downside? Harris will be early in her second term as AG, and may well turn down the appointment, Goldstein speculates. But, a lot can change in three years.