The White House is signaling that President Obama is "very close" to a decision on who he will nominate to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. When the White House released the short list, liberals responded by stating their case for Diane Wood and their case against Elena Kagan, who has drawn fire from the left for some of her more conservative positions. But now pundits, perhaps operating on some combination of leaks and reading the tea leaves, are declaring that Kagan appears very likely to be the next pick. Here's what they're saying -- and one dissent.
Look for President Obama to name his Supreme Court pick Monday, and look for it to be Solicitor General Elena Kagan, a former Harvard Law dean. The pick isn’t official, but top White House aides will be shocked if it’s otherwise. Kagan’s relative youth (50) is a huge asset for the lifetime post. And President Obama considers her to be a persuasive, fearless advocate who would serve as an intellectual counterweight to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia, and could lure swing Justice Kennedy into some coalitions The West Wing may leak the pick to AP’s Ben Feller on the later side Sunday, then confirm it for others for morning editions. For now, aides say POTUS hasn’t decided, to their knowledge.
- It Must Be Kagan, Then New York's Dan Amira shrugs, "That's what Politico's Mike Allen hears, and he talks to White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer every night before they go to bed — Pfeiffer in his house, Allen in a box in the alley — so we'll assume he's probably right." National Review's Daniel Foster lifts an eyebrow: "Kagan on Monday? So says Mike Allen ... Let the games begin." Esquire's Tim Heffernan predicts the likelihood of two events: "88% SCOTUS pick Sunday ... 100% GOP opposition Monday."
- White House Already 'Circulating Pro-Kagan Talking Points' Salon's Mike Madden sees "a fairly visible public relations strategy designed to protect Kagan from criticism before the nomination." Most recently, "White House officials started circulating a set of talking points pushing back on the criticism [about Kagan's hiring record at Harvard], sending it out to various groups allied with the administration."
- Obama Loves Kagan Salon's Alex Pareene sighs, "most reports indicate that the solicitor general [Kagan] is the front-runner. She is, after all, a big fan of expanded executive power, and presidents love that in a Supreme Court justice. If you're a Wood fan, I'd say prepare to be disappointed. At least that way you might get a pleasant surprise."
- Poll of 5,000 SCOTUS-Watchers Says Kagan FantasySCOTUS.net's Josh Blackman explains, "We have invited our nearly 5,000 members–who represent some of the closest and most ardent Court watchers–to weigh in on the vacancy, rank the candidates on the short list, and give their views on the potential nominees." The results? Elana Kagan got 51 percent of votes, over double that of Diane Wood, who got 25 percent.
- Dissent: It's Diane Wood Legal blog Above the Law's David Lat makes the unusual case. "We’re going to go out on a limb and make a crazy prediction: President Obama is going to nominate Judge Diane Wood, of the Seventh Circuit, to the Supreme Court," he writes, listening and explaining ten reasons for Wood's selection.