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Chicagoan Headed for Obama's High Court?

By Kalyn Belsha in News on May 2, 2009 7:15PM

Diane Wood and Ruben Castillo are reportedly under consideration for the soon-to-be vacant Supreme Court seat. Photos courtesy University of Chicago and AP.
With news that Justice David H. Souter will be retiring from the Supreme Court in June, a Democratic president has his first chance in 15 years to appoint a justice to the bench of the highest U.S. court.

Speculations about who Presient Obama will choose to fill the vacancy - a woman, a Latino, a fellow Chicagoan - are filling blogs and editorials, with many cautioning this decision will leave a lasting mark on the Obama administration's legacy.

But an appointment of a liberal judge will not change the makeup of the court by much, some say. Souter, who was appointed in 1990 by former President George H.W. Bush, was originally chosen for his centric point of view, but quickly became an ally for liberals. He even helped uphold abortions rights in a 1992 case that sought to undermine Roe v. Wade. If Obama appoints a liberal judge it would constitute only a three-judge bloc against the four other, more conservative justices.

The Associated Press compiled a 16-person list of potential nominees Friday that included five with ties to the Windy City.

Commentators say appellate court judge and law professor at the University of Chicago Diane Wood and U.S. Court district judge and professor at Northwestern University Ruben Castillo have the best odds of the Chicagoans in the running.

Obama is not discussing possible nominees publicly, but said he hopes to have his pick approved by the start of the Supreme Court's fall session. [WBEZ, AP]