It Takes a Village to Get on the Supreme Court?

It might, if the Daily Beast’s latest speculation is to be believed.  Seizing upon reports that the Obama Administration is looking at potential candidates for future high court vacancies, Mark McKinnon and Myra Adams suggest that Hillary Clinton just might be on the president’s short list:

[I]f in the end if it’s about what is realistic, and how Hillary could have the greatest impact on society, most would agree she could have the greatest political influence by hanging around for a couple of decades casting votes and writing opinions on the Supreme Court.

Given the political physics of the country these days, Hillary has probably concluded that things are unlikely to get much better for Democrats anytime soon. So Obama is either a one-term president, or limps through a second term only to see Republicans recapture the presidency in 2016. Either way, it doesn’t realistically look Clinton would have a shot until 2020 at the earliest.

So, we understand why Hillary might want the supreme gig. But, why would Obama consider her?

One possibility: legacy. As popular as Obama is, and as many votes as he received in 2008, he still stepped over Clinton to get to the throne.  And a lot of woman haven’t forgotten or forgiven. In one stroke, he would eliminate any remaining bad feelings and would become a Hillaryland hero.

Stripping away the drama, the politics and psychobabble, she’d be a great choice for Obama and the Democrats.  She’s as smart and as qualified as any prospect her party could nominate.

Joining the Supremes might indeed be Hillary’s best remaining shot at lasting power, and it’s plausible enough that Obama would at least consider her, but to actually nominate her?  Aside from winning back disgruntled Hillary fans (some of whom really, really hate him), it’s hard to see what would make Clinton a more appealing choice than any number of established left-wing jurists—yeah, she practiced and taught law for a while, but that’s not much of a substitute for actually building up a body of rulings and written opinions (meaning that no, she isn’t “as qualified as any prospect her party could nominate”), and unless he’s really sweating about overall liberal dissatisfaction, I’m just not sure he cares all that much about getting back into the good graces of the Hillary hardcore.

Of course, it goes without saying that Hillary Clinton would be a lousy Justice from a conservative perspective.  As a collectivist, pro-choice politician famous for her efforts to socialize American medicine, we could rely on a Justice Clinton to abandon the limited government principles of the Founding in favor of a “living constitution.”

If conservatives have taken any comfort in the rise of Barack Obama, it’s that he seemed to finally vanquish the Clintons from American politics.  But while McKinnon and Adams’ thesis still strikes me as unlikely, it would be grimly ironic if Obama instead ensured that they’d remain a thorn in our sides for many years to come.


Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also blogs at the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.