Kathleen Sullivan’s name is being mentioned more and more frequently as a potential nominee to replace Justice Souter. For the sake of full disclosure, I’ll admit that she would be my ideal choice, but I wouldn’t bet-the-house on her chances.
Name: Kathleen Marie Sullivan
DOB: August 20, 1955
Undergraduate: Cornell ’76
Graduate: Oxford ’78 (Marshall Scholar); Harvard Law ’81
Positions: Clerk, Judge James Oaks of CA2 ’82; Professor of Law, Harvard University ’84-’93; Professor of Law, Stanford University, ’93-Present; Dean of Stanford Law School ’99-’04.
Sullivan was famously described by her mentor and professor Lawrence Tribe as “the most extraordinary student I had ever had” and she served as co-counsel in Bowers v. Hardwick with him in 1986. She worked with Tribe in Bowers v. Hardwick and Hawaii Housing v. Midkiff and with Charles Fried on an amicus brief in Eichman. When she argued before the Supreme Court for the first time in Freytag v. Commissioner (1991), she argued against another rising star of the Supreme Court bar: John G. Roberts. Since then, she hass argued just a handful of cases before the Supreme Court and her most famous is a victory for the respondents in Granholm v. Heald.
Sullivan is also openly gay and a lot of commentators see that as the thing will sink her chance of a nomination. If Obama were to nominate her as his first nominee, people may see that as him placing a homosexual over a hispanic and, whatever the merits of the argument, Obama might not be willing to risk the capital now.
She was also mentioned as a top-contender for the SG job that Kagan eventually got and President Obama almost certainly chose the person for that job with the intent of, at a minimum, grooming another option for the Supreme Court. If he passed her over for that job, what is the chance that he’d choose her now?
Nevertheless, I’ve always been impressed with her intelligence and humor. I’ve attached a few videos below: