Hillary on the Bench?

 
 

Courtesy U.S. State Department

Hillary Clinton to replace U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens? Many Hillary Clinton supporters have said that is where she should be. She took herself out of the running last year, new on the job as Secretary of State, and prior to President Barack Obama nominating Sonia Sotomayor. But, now there’ll be a new vacancy. Justice Stevens, nominated by Republican Gerald Ford, but who has been labelled as more liberal than conservative, is retiring in a couple of months. Today, I asked U.S. Senator Ted Kaufman, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, about who should replace Stevens and about Hillary Clinton. 

Courtesy Sen. Ted Kaufman

Senator Kaufman tells me Hillary Clinton could get confirmed if she is nominated.  “Oh, absolutely,” responded Kaufman, who says the current Secretary of State would be a good justice.  He adds, “Interior Secretary (Ken) Salazar would be great, (Secretary of Health and Human Services) Kathy Sebelius would be great…Governor (Jennifer) Granholm of Michigan would be great.”  Kaufman says, “I hope President Obama looks around for someone who isn’t just a judicial technocrat.” He tells me that the High Court could use someone who does not come from the judicial tradition that current justices and other recent nominees have come from. He points to former Chief Justice Earl Warren and to former Justice Hugo Black as examples of great justices who came from non judicial tradition backgrounds.  Among others mentioned as contenders are Solicitor General Elena Kagan and Federal Appellate Judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland.

The Delaware U.S. Senator who replaced Joe Biden is not seeking election this November. On the lack of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, Kaufman says it is not a civility problem in Washington. “The civility’s good.”  Ted Kaufman says, “The problem is really a basic difference in opinion of what we should be doing” and that there is politics involved. “Basically, look, the Republicans I think decided, it’s pretty clear now a year and a half ago that they were just going to try to stop everything that the Congress did in its tracks, the Senate was doing in its tracks, and then go to the elections of November, 2010 arguing the Congreess didn’t do anything,” says Kaufman. He continues, “There is politics, but a lot of it is really based on principles.”
 
Kaufman believes that the low approval rating for Democrats (and Republicans) in Congress is mainly due to the tough economic times. He says the economy has turned around. Kaufman has been rying to persuade the Senate to undertake stronger reforms in the Financial Regulatory Reform Act now under consideration. He says fraud and potential criminal conduct were at the heart of the financial crisis and more needs to be done to precent future occurrences.  He also believes that the nation’s biggest banks should be broken up. Kaufman says the Obama Administration is on the right track on these issues, but that it is not yet tough enough.

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