Most folks know that when a new pope has been selected to head the Roman Catholic Church, white smoke vents from a smokestack atop the Sistine Chapel. There’s nothing like that in American politics, but maybe there should be when it comes to nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court. Until the president announces his choice, Beltway speculation on who it will be ricochets around like a bullet inside a concrete bunker.
The current buzz centers on Solicitor General and former Harvard law school dean Elena Kagan as the possible nominee to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Politico reported President Barack Obama has picked Kagan, but Fox News’ Major Garrett said nothing is final yet. “It may well end up being her,” an official told Fox, “but there’s no white smoke yet.” Ah, see? White smoke!
As for Kagan, Beltway pundits figure she’s a front-runner because she’s just 50 and likely would be on the court for years to come. Besides that, she’s supposed to have the intellectual heft to duke it out with Justice Antonin Scalia, the anchor of the court’s conservative wing. No smoke signals, but all the other signs suggest we’ll soon know what Obama is going to do.
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