Hillary Clinton for Supreme Court?

Hillary Clinton for Supreme Court? Ann Althouse goes apoplectic on a recurring meme that Barack Obama should promise Hillary Clinton the first Supreme Court vacancy in exchange for withdrawal from the race and enthusiastic support. She observes that Clinton “has no judicial experience and has never done anything to indicate that she is any sort of a legal scholar or has anything like a judicial temperament.”

Why not just beg people to vote for McCain? The Senate is going to rubber-stamp whatever unqualified, politicized judicial nominations a President Obama would send its way? Well, then, we must have the opposite party in the White House!


Miller thrills at the prospect of law as a raw political battle. Democrats who respect the rule of law and want rights to be taken seriously should not cheer at that spectacle. And conservatives will once again get strong traction arguing — as McCain did the other day — that their judges are the ones who are faithfully subservient to the law. I know liberals don’t believe that, but they must present themselves as wanting judges who bring legitimate interpretative skill and diligence to their task and operate independently from politics. Or all is lost.

Now, I think the idea is silly. There’s no way Obama appoints Clinton to the Supreme Court. For one thing, she’s too old. She’d be at least 61 and presidents want someone who’ll be on the Court 20-30 years. Further, why would he award such a prize to someone who has given him so much grief? He’s certain to be the nominee at this point. Sure, presidents have given the VP nod to bitter rivals. But the vice presidency is a subordinate position, not an independent power base.

But, from the standpoint of a liberal president who wants judges to help shape policy, Clinton is surely qualified. She’s got as much judicial experience as Earl Warren or William Rehnquist had when they were appointed. And she’s no Harriet Miers, either, given her Senate experience.

Photo: Comedy Central

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. rodney dill says:

    …then we’d have a court jester

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    There’s no comparison between Hillary Clinton’s record and Earl Warren’s. Before going into politics Warren served a number of years in private practice. He was elected three times as district attorney, once as attorney general of California, and an unprecedented three times as governor of California. When he first ran for governor he ran, essentially, unopposed, having won the primaries for the Republican, Democratic, and Progressive parties.

    He was a uniquely popular and unifying figure over a period of many years.

    Hillary Clinton on the other hand has been a highly partisan and dividing figure. There are such things as personal qualifications and judicial temperament. Hillary Clinton doesn’t have them.

  3. James Joyner says:

    I take your point on Clinton v. Warren. I’m just saying that he didn’t have experience as a judge or legal scholar.

  4. Pug says:

    Hillary Clinton on the other hand has been a highly partisan and dividing figure

    As was Earl Warren. Partisan and divisive is hardly anything new on the Supreme Court. Several of the current members could be considered highly partisan and highly divisive.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    As was Earl Warren.

    After his appointment to the SCOTUS not before.

  6. Floyd says:

    Ginsberg would welcome the chance to look smart and pretty!

  7. Dunk says:

    God, that would be a great set of confirmation hearings!

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    God, that would be a great set of confirmation hearings!

    I think they would be deadly dull. Senate rules, practice, and tradition all promote an air of great comity in dealing with fellow Senators.