With another one, possibly two, Supreme Court Justices within an arms reach of retirement, it’s never too early to start thinking of potential Supreme Court nominees. But here’s one out of left, no pun intended, field. Senator Russ Feingold. Matt Rothschild makes an excellent argument in favor of a Feingold nomination:
Feingold has the intellectual heft for the job, as he was a Rhodes Scholar and then graduated from Harvard Law School.
He is one of the staunchest defenders of civil liberties in the country, and he chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution. Not afraid to stand alone, he was the sole Senator to vote against the USA Patriot Act. He also has led the fight against illegal domestic spying, and he has spoken out strongly against the shredding of due process in the Military Commissions Act.
And perhaps Feingold’s best qualification for a seat on the Supreme Court; the dude has balls. If you ever need a member of Congress to give you a straight answer or tell it like it is, Feingold’s your man. For all of his hemming and hawing, I think Obama owes progressives a Feingold nomination to ensure a firebrand progressive has a seat on the court for many years to come.
It’s also worth noting that the Governor of Wisconsin, the state Feingold represents in the Senate, is held by democrat Jim Doyle. This is important because the major drawback with elevating any democratic politician to a higher office is the potential that he or she would be replaced by a republican. (Ask voters in Arizona how that one turned out). Thus, if Feingold were nominated he would theoretically be replaced by another democrat.
I’m particularly interested in Feingold, because his selection would represent a return to selecting non judicary figures for Supreme Court vacanicies. A little known fact, it was once very common to select non judges to the Supreme Court as a means to balance the types of opinions on the court. Some of our most famous Justices were not judges at the time of their nomination. Think Justice Hugo Black.