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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Jennifer Granholm To The Supreme Court?

(image via mybaycity)

Will President Obama appoint Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to the seat that David Souter is vacating on the Supreme Court? The name, curiously, popped up on Washington Week. And there have been whispers acoss Michigan. It isn't all that far-fetched, come to think of it.

Jennifer Granholm cannot possibly be having a good timer as Governor of Michigan, a state in deep decline. If Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires, then Michigan is a cemetery of auto plants. Even the upper class Michiganders in Grosse Point are feeling the reverberations of the decline. For the foreseeable future the state's unemployment rate will probably hover at or above 10 percent. The auto industry as it has been for several generations is a thing of the past. The Herculean labor of transitioning Michigan into new industries will be a thankless task in the political short term to any governor. A Supreme Court appointment would be a pleasantly plausible reason for exiting stage left. Curiously, it is Mitt Romney's entrepreneurial energies that just might be the right fit for Michigan's economic death spiral. Would he be interested in his father's old position? Would Michigan have him? Is there a residency requirement, even in this moment of economic exigency?

But back to Governor Granholm. She has denied interest in the Supreme Court position, yes. But any student of American politics knows that pols serve at the pleasure of the President, and if a popular one like Barack Obama were to ask Governor Granholme nicely, she would be hard-pressed to say no. And why would Governor Granholm want to say no considering her present political position.

Does the Governor of Michigan have enough "empathy"? At 50 years old, Governor Granholm is considered politically young. A Harvard law graduate and former state attorney general and federal prosecutor, she has the qualifications but is not overqualified, having never been on the bench. This is just the sort of fresh thinking, just the sort of not-steeped-in-abstract-legal-thinking that the President alluded to after Justice Souter made his announcement of retirement.

Democrats will soon to have 60 votes in the Senate. Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter's defection and Al Franken's expected court victory in Minnesota may allow the President confirmation with Granholm. That is assuming, of course, that any possible migration of Blue Dog Democrats -- anti-abortion activist Bob Casey of Pennsylvania? -- to confirm a Granholm pick (speculation, speculation) would be mitigated by possibly Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine.

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