April 13, 2010 – There might be at least one African-American on President Obama’s short list to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Associated Press is reporting Leah Ward Sears, the former chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and close friend of Associate Justice Clarence Thomas is being considered. Sears, 54 joins a list or more than a half-dozen names being tossed about to fill the seat of retiring Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.
Stevens announced last week his plan to retire this summer. The list of possible replacements seems to increase with each passing day. Sears will joins others being considered by the White House including; federal appeals court judges Diane Wood of Chicago, Sidney Thomas of Montana and Merrick Garland of Washington, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Several of the candidates, including Sears, made the list last year when the president was seeking a replacement for retiring Justice David Souter. The president ultimately selected Justice Sonia Sotomeyer, a federal appeals court judge from New York making her the first Latino to serve on the high court.
The Atlanta Constitution reports Sears broke a number of barriers as a judge. She was appointed by former Gov. Zell Miller (D) in 1992 to the state Supreme Court, and was the first woman and youngest person ever to sit on the court. In 1995, Sears became the nation’s first black woman to preside over a state Supreme Court as chief justice.
Sears shares her South Georgia hometown roots with Justice Thomas, the only African-American on the court. Some court watchers have predicted their friendship may not be a plus; it seems it was discussed when her name surfaced in 2009.
Would you like to see the president select an African-American for the Supreme Court?