SCOTUS: Handicapping A Short List

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I'm skeptical that Barack Obama has a single short list of candidates for the Supreme Court, and I'd bet that we'll learn that some unexpected names were considered, ultimately. White House officials made it clear this weekend that they've got plenty of time to do this correctly. That said, First Read's short list is reasonable enough: Kagan, Sotomajor, Woods, Garland, Napolitano, Granholm.  I'd break the list into two categories: Woods, Sotomayor and Garland being the first tier and Kagan, Napolitano and Granholm being on the second tier.  Kagan, according to people who have spoken with her, has told associates that she does not expected to be chosen; her friends believe that the White House does want her on the court, but wants to give her some seasoning as solicitor general.  Granholm is not an obvious pick, and Obama would have to (essentially) invent a reason to choose her over other, more qualified (in many different senses) jurists. Garland is a great consensus pick, a DC appellate judge in his late 50s, who is familiar with most of the major issues that will confront the court over the next five years.  That said, he's been involved in many of the terrorism/Gitmo related litigation and would have to recuse himself from many of those cases. Napolitano gets along well with Obama, but there's no compelling reason to appoint her.  That leaves Sotomayor, whose stock is now rising among the cognoscienti, and Woods, who Obama knows well from the faculty of U Chicago and whose paper trail is satisfying free of blemishes. She's considered to be a brilliant jurist and a compassionate person.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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