Granholm listed as high court option

Expert predicts Mich. governor could be Supreme Court pick if Obama is elected


Despite an expert’s prediction that Gov. Jennifer Granholm is on Barack Obama’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees, experts say the stars would have to align for Granholm to sit on the nation’s highest court. Last week, The Washington Post placed Granholm at the bottom of a roster of five possible female Supreme Court nominees. The list was compiled by Thomas C. Goldstein of the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld LLP.

Assuming the Illinois senator won the presidency and one of the nine justices retired, several more highly qualified hopefuls would probably take a seat on the court before Granholm, MSU associate law professor Brian Kalt said.

“I would be very surprised (if Granholm was nominated),” Kalt said.

Granholm on the Supreme Court?

Last week, The Washington Post placed Gov. Jennifer Granholm on a list of the top five candidates for a Barack Obama-appointed Supreme Court.

Granholm was last on the list, following Sonia Sotomayor, Diane P. Wood, Elena Kagan and Leah Ward Sears.

Three Supreme Court Justices — John Paul Stevens, 88, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, 75, and David Hackett Souter, 69 — are expected to retire within the next president’s first term.

Experts say Granholm’s lack of judicial experience makes her an unlikely candidate.

Source: The Washington Post

“There are a lot of people who have been in line a lot longer who are much more obvious choices.”

But law professor Frank Ravitch said Granholm has many common qualities of a Supreme Court judge: Degrees from Harvard and University of California, Berkeley, a nationally recognized name and a four-year stint as the state’s attorney general.

“She’s no slouch,” he said.

Ravitch added that Granholm’s lack of experience on a judicial bench weakens her chances. Most Supreme Court nominees have spent some time on one of the lower courts.

“It would be more likely he would appoint her to the 6th Circuit Court and from there, she might go to the Supreme Court,” he said.

Three current justices — 88-year-old John Paul Stevens, 75-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsberg and 69-year-old David Hackett Souter — are rumored to be considering retirement during the next president’s first term.

Ravitch said it’s likely that at least one of the possible resignations would take place while Granholm is still in office. If that happened, Granholm could be forced to decide between her current job and a seat on the court.

“It would be hard for her not to take very seriously,” he said.

“On the other hand, she’s got her vision of Michigan and might say, ‘I can’t do it right now.’”

Liz Boyd, a spokeswoman for Granholm, said the governor hasn’t given it much thought.

“This is not the first time people have speculated about the governor’s future, and it won’t be the last time,” she said.

“She is focused on her current job.”

Ravitch said Granholm would be an even-keeled, thoughtful, moderate judge, but both Kalt and Bill Ballenger, editor and publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, said they would expect her to be a liberal judge who would loosely interpret the Constitution.

“You would certainly expect her to be a progressive, liberal Democrat just in the mold of some of the people she’d be replacing,” Ballenger said.

Stevens, Ginsberg and Souter are all considered to be liberal justices.

If Granholm were selected for and accepted a judicial position before her term as Governor is up, Lt. Gov. John Cherry would take her place as governor.

Ballenger said Cherry would likely adhere to most of Granholm’s political ideas, but he might work better with the state Legislature. Before becoming lieutenant governor, Cherry spent more than 20 years as a state legislator.

“He would have a chance to maybe get along a little better with the Legislature and figure out how to get things done in the legislature better than Governor Granholm,” he said.

Although Granholm wouldn’t be the first Michigan governor to sit on the Supreme Court — Frank Murphy was appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 — Michigan residents shouldn’t read too much into The Washington Post list, Ravitch said.

“This is all a guessing game. These rumors fly all the time,” Ravitch said. “She could be appointed right away to the Supreme Court, she could not be appointed to any court.”

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