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  The President and the Persuader: Why Obama Should Select Merrick Garland to Move the Supreme Court to the Left
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ContributorScott³ 
Last EditedScott³  Apr 25, 2010 06:02pm
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CategoryAnalysis
AuthorJohn Heilemann
News DateFriday, April 23, 2010 11:00:00 PM UTC0:0
Description"The process of selecting a new Supreme Court justice to fill the soon-to-be-vacant seat of John Paul Stevens formally commenced this week, when Barack Obama summoned a handful of Senate grandees to discuss the matter at a meeting in the Oval Office. Obama, predictably, didn’t tip his hand as to whom he is considering. But, then again, he really didn’t need to—given that the president’s short list to fill the slot has been almost as widely disseminated as the photos on the White House Flickr stream.

Of the top three candidates, Solicitor General Elena Kagan has attracted at once the most attention and criticism, mainly from the left, which worries that she could turn out to be a mirror-image David Souter—a supposed liberal who winds up pushing the high court to the right. Much discussion, too, has attended the trio’s other female: federal appellate judge Diane Wood, who is seen as the most progressive of the three but also the most likely to prove contentious, owing partly to her strong advocacy of abortion rights.

Concerning the third front-runner, however, there has been precious little hubbub. The candidate in question is Merrick Garland, a Bill Clinton appointee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Garland is well known, well respected, and tremendously well liked in Washington legal circles; even Republicans have nice things to say about him (which has both advantages and disadvantages, about which more shortly). Yet Garland also happens to possess certain qualities that are, shall we say, politically suboptimal. He is white. He is male. And he’s 57 years old—compared with, say, Kagan, who at 49 offers Obama a chance to leave his mark on the court for perhaps an additional decade.

Three strikes and Garland’s out, you say? Well, you may be right. But that would be a real shame—because the case for making him one of The Supremes is, in fact, compelling."
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