Choosing a Successor to Justice David Souter

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Dr. Kermit Roosevelt
Professor of Law
University of Pennsylvania

• Researches and teaches constitutional law and conflict of laws.
• Former clerk to Supreme Court Justice David Souter

“I think Obama should pick a woman. The sexes plainly have different experiences, and a woman will bring to the Supreme Court a life history and set of understandings a man would not. That the current court consists of nine former federal court of appeals judges has been thought problematic. It is surely as important to have women on the court as it is to have people with experience in legislatures or executive office, especially when well-qualified female candidates abound.
“The community-organizer president needs to pick a coalition-builder justice. He can appoint a jurist with that rare ability to persuade her conservative colleagues, which emphatically would affect the court's rulings. Such a quality will be vital in the years ahead. Think how many crucial issues, from the 2000 election to gun control to eminent domain, have been decided by 5-to-4 rulings in recent years. Obama's nominee may well serve on the bench for the next 30 years. In just the next few years, her ability to build a coalition, or lack thereof, could decide the answers to such high-stakes questions as abortion, same-sex marriage, race-based affirmative action and privacy.”