Hillary to the Supreme Court?

The short list to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens doesn't appear to include Hillary Clinton. But a number of smart commentators, and at least one Republican senator, Orrin Hatch, think it should. I've written a lot about Clinton over the years, and I'm intrigued by the idea. My reaction is twofold: as a purely political matter, I don't see how this makes sense for Obama. He'd lose a good secretary of state and touch off a culture war over her confirmation (note that Hatch didn't say he'd vote for her). The fact that true liberal ideologues don't appear on Obama's short list suggests to me that the White House is seeking to avoid such a war.

On the other hand, I have no doubt Clinton would serve ably on the court. The upshot of the Atlantic cover story I wrote three years ago about her Senate tenure was that, while she didn't make for a compelling presidential candidate (a controversial assessment at the time), she had proved herself highly capable as a senator. She was much more effective in the cloakroom than on the stump, and showed a flair for working with conservatives--a talent that would presumably carry over to the chamber. A lot of the pregame coverage of the upcoming court fight suggests that an ability to work with conservatives is a quality Obama prizes in a nominee. My own feeling is that this sort of sentiment is popular to express but rarely acted upon. I'm skeptical about how much "persuading" can happen in the court, just as I'm skeptical about it happening in Congress (at least some of Clinton's bipartisanship, let's remember, derived from the assumption that she would soon be president).

But not everyone's a cynic. Perhaps we're in for a second shocking announcement from Obama concerning Hillary Clinton. 

Presented by

Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In