Slate wants to hear from you on whom Barack Obama should nominate to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who will retire at the end of this year's term. Below is our handpicked list of leading candidates for the job, which you can further filter by age and gender using the buttons on the left. To cast your vote, click on the name and then click "Nominate" at the bottom of the candidate's profile to send us an e-mail. Please write a few words about why you're choosing your pick as well. (Comments may be quoted by name unless you specify otherwise.)
Click here to read Slate's writeups on the candidates.
Jennifer Granholm, 51, the current governor of Michigan, has no experience on the bench—which, as the Detroit News noted, would make her the first nonjudge to reach the court since William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell in 1972. Since she was born in Vancouver, she would also be the first foreign-born justice since Felix Frankfurter, who joined the court in 1939.
Granholm does not have an extensive record from which to draw conclusions about her judicial philosophy. After graduating from Harvard Law in 1987, Granholm clerked for 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Damon Keith, who is credited with desegregating Pontiac and pushing back against the Nixon administration on wiretapping. (Granholm still considers Keith a mentor.) Granholm served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan for four years before being elected governor. She was re-elected governor in 2006 but is limited to two terms in office.
Notable cases: As a prosecutor, Granholm's most newsworthy case involved the theft of nearly 49,000 copies of the movie Fantasia. As attorney general, much of her focus was on consumer protection and high-tech crimes like identity theft. As governor, she has been preoccupied by budget fights with the state legislature because of Michigan's massive deficit.
Elena Kagan, 49, is also at the top of most shortlists, and we know she's confirmable because she has already been confirmed as the first female solicitor general of the United States, the only federal official required by statute to be "learned in the law." Kagan has a J.D. from Harvard Law School, where she was supervising editor of the law review. While Kagan had never argued a case before the court when chosen as solicitor general—her lack of Supreme Court experience led to a tense confirmation on a 61-31 vote—she did serve as clerk to Thurgood Marshall and as associate counsel to President Bill Clinton. Kagan would become the third Jewish justice on the current court, joining Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Her opponents on the right have criticized her for lacking judicial experience, though they might thank themselves for that, since Senate Republicans effectively blocked Kagan's nomination to a U.S. Court of Appeals seat in 1999.
While Kagan has no judicial record to scour, she has done enough academic writing to create a significant paper trail. Her specialty is First Amendment and administrative law; she has also done a good deal of thinking about the proper role of the executive branch, most notably in a 2001 law review article that rather presciently addressed the theory of a "unitary executive" initiated in some sense by the Clinton Justice Department and especially beloved by Bush lawyers like David Addington. Kagan concluded that "President Clinton's assertion of directive authority over administration, more than President Reagan's assertion of a general supervisory authority, raises serious constitutional questions."
Kagan is probably most famous for being a careful pragmatist who throws few ideological bombs. The New York Times has described her legal writings as "dense, hedged and moderate." She is also known as the woman who healed an ideological fracture that threatened to destroy Harvard Law School by recruiting prominent conservative faculty members and focusing attention on student needs. Conservative opponents have latched onto her opposition to on-campus military recruiting at Harvard because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" stance toward gay soldiers. Liberals, for their part, have been disappointed by Kagan's stance on hotly contested terrorism questions, including her support for indefinite detention of prisoners without a trial.
Janet Napolitano, 52, has an extensive background in public and private law, but like Jennifer Granholm and Elena Kagan, Napolitano has never served as a judge. After clerking for a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals after law school, she joined a local Phoenix firm, where she specialized in commercial and appellate work. She quickly made partner, eventually joining Supreme Court scholar John P. Frank in defending Anita Hill at the Clarence Thomas hearings. President Clinton appointed her U.S. attorney for Arizona shortly after taking office, though her confirmation was held up for nearly a year over lingering resentment in the Senate.