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April 13, 2010

Lady Justice

By Spear's

Knowing Obama’s predilection for naming women to the Supreme Court, it was only a matter of time before speculation turned to Hillary Clinton.

It’s a shame, really. It was such a good idea and it’s so very rare for such a great idea to originate as a mere bit of internet-promoted salacious gossip: US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for the next Supreme Court Justice.

Ever since John Paul Stevens announced his retirement, the list of his potential replacements is nearly all Washington can talk about (it makes a welcome change from healthcare and those annoying tea baggers). Knowing Obama’s predilection for naming women to the Supreme Court (his last appointment was Sonia Sotomayor and he has made little secret of his desire to appoint another one), I guess it was only a matter of time before speculation turned to the female lawyer closest to him: Hillary Clinton.

She’s always been touted as a brilliant legal and political brain, and it would be a great way for Obama to ensure his legacy: his right-hand woman making legal decisions and indelibly shaping American society for decades to come. Arguably she’d be better out of the swift torrents of politics and in the cloistered environment of the Supreme Court chambers. Besides, Justice has always been a portrayed as a woman, a blindfolded woman.

What’s most remarkable is how popular the idea of Clinton as Supreme Court Justice became. From much maligned and reviled First Lady to controversial Senator to effective Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s career and image rehabilitation is proof that we can have many lives — at least if you’re over twenty: adolescents have such rapidly shrinking life expectancies they’ll be lucky to get one. Today the news talk shows led with the strange headline: “Clinton will NOT be next Justice. Why not?”

Why not, indeed, is what commentators on all sides answered the dismayed moderators who were hoping for a lively debate. Not a single one even quipped about what she would look like in robes; they were too reverent to even slip into their usual flippant sexism. I couldn’t believe it. Perhaps Washington has changed forever. 

And then Obama put out his list of potential nominees, the only recognizable name of which is Janet Napolitano, Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security and former Attorney General of Arizona. The rest of them are a bit so-what — at least female so-whats, but even so I can’t feel sad that such a brilliant, popular and sexy idea died such a swift and humiliating death.

One commentator, desperately grasping for a rationalization said the world order is better this way because all those international agreements Clinton is brokering would be in jeopardy if foreign leaders couldn’t be sure of her continuation in her current job. Then Washington felt boring and deflated again and everyone moved on to another topic. 

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