Governor Jennifer Granholm so far has not entertained any talk about being on short lists of potential nominees for the opening on the U.S. Supreme Court being created by Justice David Souter’s retirement later this year.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm: Let's talk about something else
Granholm last week demurred when pressed by Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC and, locally, Paul W. Smith on WJR, about her possible SCOTUS nomination. In fact, Granholm told Smith that her nomination would never fly because she’s never been a judge.
But that’s an excellent reason why she should be considered, according to University of Maryland School of Law Professor Sherrilyn A. Ifill. In a commentary published yesterday on CNN’s Web site, Ifill argued that the Supreme Court has been overpopulated by former appeals court judges.
It’s been nearly two decades since anyone who has not served as a federal appellate judge — for at least a little while — has been confirmed to sit on the court. What this means is that justices on the court have come to be representative of a very narrow slice of the profession.
Federal appellate judges, former federal prosecutors and high-powered federal appellate practitioners stand a very good chance of getting nominated. State court judges, full-time law professors, former criminal defense attorneys, even civil practice trial lawyers — not so much.
Ifill says that relying on the federal appellate bench as “the sole feeder to the Supreme Court also means that the pool from which nominees are considered is overwhelmingly white and male.”
That’s why Ifill is pleased to hear that
three women with more diverse backgrounds may be on President Obama’s shortlist for the court. Elena Kagan is the former dean of Harvard Law School and Obama’s new solicitor general. Leah Ward Sears is the chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. And of course Jennifer Granholm is the governor of Michigan.
As could be expected, we’ve already heard murmurs that Kagan and Granholm should not be considered because they lack judicial experience. This is just wrong-headed and reflective of the wholesale acceptance of an increasingly narrow view of Supreme Court qualifications.
Each of these nominees has been touted as a talented lawyer who could help bring much-needed gender diversity to the court (which after the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006 left Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the lone woman justice). But perhaps these candidates should best be recognized for their potential to bring much-needed professional diversity to the court.