Diane Wood for the Supremes?

I’m no judge of judicial horseflesh, but CSheryl Gay Stolberg makes a mighty persuasive case for Diane Wood as the next Supreme Court nominee. She has a record of getting along with, and even sometimes persuading, Posner and Easterbrook, which is going to make it hard to portray her as being out on the left fringe, but she has some abortion decisions that will get the wingnuts in an uproar. The optimal nominee the one who will both generate a fuss – to help mobilize the base – and get confirmed. The optimal justice is the one with the best chance of persuading Anthony Kennedy to desert the Republican bloc. On both counts, Wood looks close to ideal. I’d rather have a 45-year-old than a 59-year-old, but you can’t have everything.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

12 thoughts on “Diane Wood for the Supremes?”

  1. Not perhaps the most felicitously deployed horse metaphor I've read. (Plus it's Sheryl.) But I'm persuaded.

  2. Well, Vance, it's not as bad as when Mike O'Hare suggested covering Nancy Pelosi with whipped cream. Mark is sort of getting into the territory of truckers with 'I'll trade my forty for two twenties' scratched into the glunge on the back of their rigs with his age remark about Judge Wood – as a guy who kind of favors twelve-year nonrenewable terms for the Supremes I'm not sold on that. Roosevelt's chafing at the dead hands of past Presidents constraining him through their Supremes is an important memory. If the Dems can't keep winning elections, it's better if the Court aligns with relative promptness with the folks who do. Same with the Reeps – we have Alito, Roberts, Thomas, Scalia on the Court for YEARS past the mandates of the presidents who appointed them.

  3. More important than their religion, more important than their political affiliation, more important than their age or sex or judicial record, we need a supreme court justice who isn't a corporate stooge. I nominate Ralph Nader.

  4. I nominate Ralph Nader

    ROFLMAO! Michael Dare wins tha thread!'

    No, seriously, given that Nader made it possible for Roberts and Alito to be named to the Court, he might as well just join them himself now. Not sure he'd want that, though. If he became a Justice, I think he'd have to stop taking Republican money.

  5. The horse metaphor is apt. One of the differences between Democratic and Republican presidents is which end of the horse they look at when considering judicial nominees.

    I surmise that Judge Wood's having spent her formative years in Texas may have shaped her sensibilities insofar as dealing with a good ole boy environment. Think of Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan and Molly Ivins.

    Mark's point about helping to mobilize the base of President Obamas liberal supporters is an important one. Midterm elections are largely about turnout. The Republicans are already highly motivated; a knockdown, drag out confirmation battle will help to reinforce what is at stake for liberals. (Control of reapportionment should be sufficient incentive, but that does not evoke the same visceral response.)

  6. As gross as it might be to call a 59 year old too old to be nominated, the sad truth of the matter is that age really does matter here. But I am not as sold as Mark appears to be on the importance of her history of getting along with Judges Easterbrook and Posner, who are the two most prominent acolytes of the school of law and econ, and who do not necessarily share many core beliefs with Kennedy.

  7. Diane Wood is 2 years younger than Clarence Thomas. As others have said, age matters. A whole lot. Perhaps Mark can contact someone at UCLA familiar with Markov chains to run the math and find out what the eventual distribution of the court would be. Make it so that Democratic nominees have 20 years on the court, Republican nominees 40. You'll be shocked at the results.

  8. Quiddity, you have a kind of serene Markov confidence that leftiness is the absorbing state. Anybody here remember Whizzer White? The Linda Greenhouse/Dahlia Lithwick types are all ready to bless someone for 'growing on the job', which means trending left from whatever position they were in when put on the Court, but that's not the only direction a Supreme can move. Put Elena K. on the court because you like her life expectancy, and in 25 years she may surprise you.

    Now, Obama has already demonstrated that he doesn't care much about the length of term for his justices, having put the diabetic Sotomayor on the court.

  9. Don't forget that justices sometimes retire long before they are near the end of their lives (e.g., O'Connor, Souter), so appointing a young justice doesn't guarantee that the person will be on the Court for a long time. And besides, Judge Wood's mother is in her 90s. Wood could easily be on the Court for 30 years. Think Scalia or Thomas is going to live until the age of 90? Or overweight smoker Elena Kagan? Doubt it.

  10. "<del>C</del>Sheryl Gay Stolberg" : I read this first as "€Sheryl..", wondering if the lady was accused of being in the pay of the European Commission. The trope may have legs. After Citizens United, we should certainly be writing about Chief Justice $John Roberts.

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