Obama’s Supreme Court Appointment

Republicans have already said they will try to block any attempt by President Obama to have his nominee replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.  The president has less than a year left in office, so blocking his nominee may be easy.  But the Republicans may be playing right into the president’s hands.  Who would Obama most like to see take that Supreme Court seat?  He’d like to occupy that seat himself.

He could pull it off, but it would be tricky.  First, he has to get the timing right.  He should wait long enough so there will not be enough time for a second nomination, but he should not wait until Fall, to prevent the Republicans from waiting until after the election for hearings.  If the Republicans won the presidential election, there is no way they would confirm an Obama nominee.  But if the Democrats won they might, which would prevent the next president from nominating Obama.  And, he needs to nominate the right candidate, but that should be easy.

The president is already consulting with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to find out who might be acceptable.  The easy part is nominating an unacceptable candidate.  Of course, the Republican Senate will not approve the nominee, opening the door for the next president to nominate Obama.

Then, of course, Obama needs the Democrat to win the presidential election.  Sanders would be more likely to nominate Obama, but Clinton might also come through for him if she is elected.  If the Democrats have a big enough win that the Senate goes Democratic,  the new president can nominate Obama to the Supreme Court, to be confirmed by the Democratic Congress.

Why should Obama try to fight it out with the Republicans to get a nominee with the clock ticking toward the end of his presidency, when an alternative strategy increases his chances that he will be appointed to be the next Supreme Court justice?

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas: Taxation, Foundations, and Philanthropy in America .
Full Biography and Recent Publications
Beacon Posts by Randall Holcombe | Full Biography and Publications
  • Catalyst
  • MyGovCost.org
  • FDAReview.org
  • OnPower.org
  • elindependent.org