Bench Memos

Still No SG Nominee

Ever since May 10, when President Obama announced his intention to nominate Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, the White House has known that it would (almost certainly) need to nominate her successor as Solicitor General.  Yet four-and-a-half months have passed since then, the opening of the new Supreme Court term is one week away, and there’s still no SG nominee.

If the White House were competent—and, yes, that assumption now seems clearly established as counterfactual—it would have been ready to nominate the new SG right after Kagan’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on August 5.  It could then have plausibly made the case that the Senate ought to act to confirm that nominee expeditiously—before the start of the Supreme Court term.

Instead, the White House has dithered.  Why?  In contrast to Obama’s selection of Kagan—who had never argued an appeal anywhere before becoming SG—there are surely plenty of highly qualified and experienced appellate lawyers with strong Democratic ties who would be eager to take the job.  Was it really that difficult to select one of them by early August?  With the shortened Senate schedule for the remainder of the year, is there any reason at this point to think that the eventual nominee will be confirmed before 2011?

(I’ve heard various rumors about who the leading candidates are for the SG nomination.  Nothing in this post is intended to imply that I favor or disfavor any of them.)

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