A Deep Young Bench of Outstanding Supreme Court Candidates

by Ed Whelan

Former Solicitor General Paul Clement’s sterling performance in the Obamacare oral arguments this week provides an encouraging reminder of the extraordinary depth of legal talent among relatively young conservatives who are serious prospects for a Supreme Court nomination if a Republican is elected president this November.

Clement himself is only 45 but is already widely recognized as the premier Supreme Court advocate. (It helps, of course, that the previous person to have that status is no longer practicing but is now the Chief Justice.) Among Clement’s credentials: four years as Solicitor General, three more as principal deputy to the Solicitor General, more than 50 Supreme Court arguments, a stint on Senate Judiciary Committee staff, a very distinguished academic record, and clerkships to Justice Scalia and D.C. Circuit judge Laurence Silberman.

Even more encouraging: By my quick count, there are fourteen Republican appointees to the federal courts of appeals who were born in 1960 or later, and those include nearly all the sitting judges routinely identified as short-listers for a Republican nomination to the Court (as well as some others who, while not routinely identified, would be outstanding picks). By contrast, there are (again, by my quick count) only six Democratic appointees to the federal courts of appeals who were born in 1960 or later, and I’ve never heard any of them mentioned as Supreme Court prospects.

Whoever is elected (or re-elected) president this November may well be in a position to replace Justice Ginsburg, Justice Scalia, and Justice Kennedy during his term—and thus to decisively transform the Court. All the more reason for conservatives to work tirelessly to defeat President Obama and elect a Republican Senate.

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