Considering that the 2008 presidential campaign has gotten off to a ludicrously early start, it should come as no surprise that the speculation about potential Supreme Court nominees in the next administration has also gotten under way.
On his widely read SCOTUSblog, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld's Thomas Goldstein (also a contributor to Legal Times) spins out an interesting list of names if a Democrat is elected, including Judges Johnnie Rawlinson and Kim Wardlaw from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit and Judge Sonia Sotomayor on the 1st Circuit.
Moving off the appellate bench, Goldstein also mentions Govs. Deval Patrick, D-Mass., and Jennifer Granholm, D-Mich.; Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan; and, yes, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., unless that would put him in the awkward spot of a president appointing himself.
Also raising eyebrows is Goldstein's assumption, which he bases on his "strong sense" from knowledgeable sources, that Justice David Souter may be the first, or one of the first, to depart from the Court. Souter, 67, is said to be eager to return to New Hampshire -- so eager that he may beat Justices John Paul Stevens, 87, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 74, to the exit door.
Some of Goldstein's picks are "silly," says Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice, which has campaigned for President George W. Bush's judicial nominees. "Speculating about who's leaving the Supreme Court is almost always wrong," Levey says.