Obama Just Described His Perfect Supreme Court Nominee

February 24, 2016, 3:11 PM UTC
President Obama Prepares For His Final State Of The Union Address
Photograph by Alex Wong—Getty Images

Like a single, starry-eyed gal or guy daydreaming up the ideal mate, President Barack Obama on Wednesday turned to a blog to pen a description of his perfect Supreme Court nominee.

On Scotusblog, a site devoted to the Supreme Court and closely followed by judicial observers, Obama said he wanted to provide “spoiler-free” insights into what factors he’s considering as he selects a justice who could replace the late Antonin Scalia, who died on February 13.

Obama’s first qualification? Being “eminently qualified.” No surprise there. Obama said he wants someone with “an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials, and a record of excellence and integrity.”

His second criterion is an understanding that “a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law.” Obama wants a justice who has no “particular ideology or agenda” as he or she approaches decisions but is instead committed to “impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand.”

And thirdly, he wants a judge who knows that justice is not confined to the halls of the High Court but understands that it “affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly changing times.” That, he says, “is an essential element for arriving at just decisions and fair outcomes.”

Those qualities are what Obama says he’s considering as he “fulfills [his] constitutional duty to appoint a judge to [the] highest court.”


But even if Obama finds a nominee that fits that mold perfectly, it will likely all be for naught. Senate Republicans leaders said on Tuesday that no matter who the president puts forward as the next justice, they will reject him or her outright without holding confirmation hearings, a vote, or even a courtesy meeting with Obama. They want whoever wins the 2016 Presidential election to select the next appointee instead.

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