Influential Supreme Court expert says a dark horse candidate might fill Scalia's seat

Ketanji Brown JacksonC-SPANKetanji Brown Jackson.

In a post on Tuesday, a co-founder of the influential SCOTUSBlog mentioned a new, and somewhat unlikely, candidate to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

SCOTUSBlog’s Tom Goldstein argues that US District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 45, could be a viable candidate, even though she’s never served on a federal appeals court as many high court justices do.

A former Supreme Court law clerk with a law degree from Harvard, Brown Jackson was confirmed to her current seat on the Us District Court for the District of Columbia without anybody voting against her.

She also has an impressive family, as Goldstein notes. From his blog post (emphasis ours):

“She is married to a surgeon and has two young daughters. Her father is a retired lawyer and her mother a retired school principal. Her brother was a police officer (in the unit that was the basis for the television show The Wire) and is now a law student, and she is related by marriage to Congressman (and Speaker of the House) Paul Ryan.”

During her confirmation in 2012, Ryan offered his “unequivocal support” and praised her “intellect, character, and integrity,” reports The Times-Picayune. (That paper noted that Ryan’s brother-in-law, William Jackson, is the twin brother of Brown Jackson’s husband.)

It could be awkward for Republican Senators to block her given the support she got when she was nominated to the District Court.

Moreover, in an election year — and facing a highly polarised confirmation process — Obama needs to rally the Democratic base, and also convince independents that Republicans are “blocking the orderly functioning of the government,” according to Goldstein.

As his presidency winds down, Obama is also looking to solidify his legacy, Goldstein notes. Nominating a liberal justice to the Supreme Court will tip the balance in favour of the left, and ensure that Obama’s legislative agenda on immigration, healthcare, the environment, and firearms will stand well after his presidency has ended.

Jackson joins a host of potential other nominees, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Kamala D. Harris, federal appeals court judge Srikanth Srinivasan, or even a more moderate Republican like Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, or Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), reports The New York Times.

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