SCOTUS Sweepstakes: How About Cory Booker?

Cory Booker would be the ideal Obama nominee for the Supreme Court.

Now that John Paul Stevens has announced his retirement from the United States Supreme Court, all the chatter will be about his likely successor.  And the usual suspects are being rounded up.

But here’s an unusual suspect whom I think would be excellent on all counts: Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

Booker is an extemely effective mayor: for the first time in decades, Newark went an entire month without a homicide, due in large part to Booker’s innovative law enforcement and community organizing strategies.  He is extremely intelligent: a Rhodes Scholar and a graduate of Yale Law School.  He has important experience, both practical and legal: he served as a staff attorney at the Urban Justice Center in New York City and no one has done more in such a short time to reduce violence in America’s urban centers.  His work has achieved praise even from conservatives.

Will Republicans filibuster one of the most innovative and talented African-American public servants in the country?  Go ahead; make my day.  Stir up the Democratic base.

Oh, and did I mention that in a couple of weeks, Booker turns 41 years old?

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

17 thoughts on “SCOTUS Sweepstakes: How About Cory Booker?”

  1. Will Republicans filibuster one of the most innovative and talented African-American public servants in the country?


  2. Let's face facts- Republicans would filibuster Jesus- that "share the wealth, class warfare instigating, pinko communist" that Jesus is. So forget about worrying which person we can nominate that would not engender filibuster rage. Every candidate will. The question to ask is which candidate will make them look like a$$h*les for filibustering? I will admit I am intrigued. I am just not sure if he is too real world for the airy fairy losers on the bench. He might actually think about the real world implications of his decisions!! Gasp!

  3. Of course they wouldn't filibuster him.

    The work he's doing in Newark is more important. You can find any left-wing hack to vote the right way, but effectiveness as a mayor is harder to find.

  4. Speaking of age, Obama will be 55 at the end of his second term, and wouldn't he be a terrific pick for SCOTUS then?

  5. Nah, Obama will be impeached and disbarred just like the first black President about a dozen years ago.

  6. Obama runs from the race frame whenever possible. I don't foresee him nominating a black person regardless of merit.

  7. I grew up with him and truly hoped that he'd be the first African-American president. Fortunately, he still has a chance to be the first good one.

  8. Second Dave and NVOT. Don't shut Booker away on the Supreme Court. He's too valuable as an executive; he's got smarts up the yin-yang. First governor of New Jersey–please!!–then president.

  9. I like Booker too, but . . . can we please, just once, just for fun, just to see what it might be like, maybe nominate and confirm someone who did not go to a freakin' Ivy law school? Especially considering that the guy retiring right now is the only one currently on the court who didn't? And the last two who didn't went to Stanford, which, c'mon, isn't exactly "non-Ivy."

    Look, they're great institutions and all, but they are also institutions where those who excel have the world for the asking. Race, gender, and wealth are not the only ways to develop a narrow view of the world. I'm not asking for the world here, I don't think — and we don't need to go hog wild and just nominate someone from some horrible safety school like, I don't know, Universtiy of Texas, or that place where you teach, Prof. Zasloff. Maybe we could just dip our toe in the water a bit, don't you think? Maybe a Berkeley grad? Or Cornell (I know, I know, but its not REALLY an Ivy, is it?)? I hear Georgetown has a good reputation.

    I mean, look — if Yale gave us Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito, and Harvard gave us Roberts and Scalia, maybe we should start viewing the institutions themselves with a certain degree of scepticism. Or, at a minimum, at least not drearily trot the ol' sheepskin out as if it were a necessary precursor for a SCOTUS justice.

  10. Most GOP Senators will vote against any Obama nominee, no matter hoow universally acclaimed for her brilliance, judicial demeanor, etc. They will object that she is outside "the mainstream," by which they mean "disagrees with us."

    Obama did the same thing as a Senator when he voted against Roberts, Alito, and lower-court nominees. Right or wrong, it's the same. Look, we can try to argue all day that "Roberts is really out there, and Diane Wood is mainstream," but then we're fools. Half the country, or 40% of it, are not outside the mainstream, they're just the half we think are wrong.

    Obama can just say "we have the votes" and move on.

  11. How about nominating Bill Clinton, just to see how many Republicans' heads would explode?

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