News outlets have reported that President Obama is starting to interview candidates to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
While Senate Republicans have already vowed not to vote on any prospective justice until the new administration is sworn in next January, the DGAF president is moving forward.
"The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now," Obama said, dismissing Republican protestations. "There's no unwritten law that says that it can only be done on off years."
And now, Obama is meeting with the contenders. While pundits have tossed out a dozen or so possibilities, it seems Obama has narrowed it down to six. Glory—three of them are women. If either Judge Jane Kelly, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, or Judge Patricia A. Millett is selected and appointed, four women would sit on the Supreme Court bench for the first time ever. Here's a quick primer on these not-very-well-known ladies.
Judge Jane Kelly
Kelly graduated from Harvard Law in 1991 and went on to clerk for both an appellate judge and a U.S. district court judge. If appointed, she would be the first Supreme Court Justice ever to have served as a public defender. She is now a member of the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit.
While NPR writes that she's considered a long-shot, some Democrats wonder whether Kelly represents an opportunity to sidestep Republican obstructionism. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee―the guy who will decide whether or not to hold confirmation hearings on any nominee―has praised Kelly, a fellow Iowan. In a Senate address in 2013, reading from a handwritten recommendation that a mutual friend had sent him, he called Kelly a "forthright woman of high integrity and honest character" and a person of "exceptionally keen intellect."
Even for Kelly, however, Grassley has gone on the record that he will not reverse his position.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Jackson would be the first African American woman to serve on the Supreme Court, if selected. She earned her law degree at Harvard in 1996, moving on to hold a top position at the U.S. Sentencing Commission. But Jackson has only been a judge since 2013 and currently sits on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, which puts her at a disadvantage.
"[I]t is rare," the Washington Post points out, "for someone to go from a U.S. District Court directly to the Supreme Court, bypassing the appellate courts on which many justices have served." The most recent justice to make such a leap was Edward T. Sanford. He was appointed in 1923.
But African American leaders have urged Obama to use this final chance to nominate a black judge to the high court. NAACP President Cornell William Brooks echoed that perspective on Tuesday. "It's high time for the consideration of African American women on the court," he said, adding that it's "likely to be the president's last chance."
Judge Patricia A. Millett
Millett is already a veteran of the Supreme Court. Before she was appointed to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit , she traveled to the high court to represent 32 cases as an attorney in the Solicitor General's office and later in private practice. Previously, she worked on the board of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Under normal circumstances, her appointment would be considered a moderate choice. She has defended the conservative Roberts Court on business matters and is not thought to be a very ideological judge. But in our current political climate, it seems not even these factors will sway Senate Republicans.
Follow Marie Claire on Instagram for the latest celeb news, pretty pics, funny stuff, and an insider POV.