SCOTUS buzz building for Diane Wood

At this point, no one really knows who Obama is going to nominate to the Supreme Court. But in recent days, the buzz has been building around Diane Wood, a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Obama knows Wood from his days at University of Chicago, where they both served as law professors. He reportedly sat down with her at the White House yesterday, his first face-to-face talk with a potential nominee.

Writing in The New Republic, Jeffrey Rosen praised Wood's judicial temperment, anointing her the "second coming of Ruth Bader Ginsburg," whom Rosen considers a model justice. (Rosen, it should be noted, started a raucus debate over Sonia Sotomayor when he penned a piece relying on anonymous sources to question her temperament and intelligence.)

And in a WaPo piece today, Wood and Solicitor Elena Kagan are labeled the frontrunners:
Wood, 58, is considered an expert on international trade and antitrust issues, and is held in high esteem in liberal legal circles in Chicago for serving as an intellectual counterpart to the circuit's star conservative judges, Frank H. Easterbrook and Richard Posner. "It's hard to overstate how well she is thought of" by Obama's legal allies, said one lawyer who has been consulted by the White House during the process.

But you can also judge Wood's prospects based on the pushback from conservatives. The NY Times reported last week that conservatives are preparing to highlight Wood's opinions on abortion. And over at National Review's Bench Memos blog, Ed Whelan--former clerk to Anotnin Scalia, General Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and an attorney in Bush's Office of Legal Counsel--has written a five-post series critiquing Wood's judicial philosophy. Here's his most recent:
Wood gives no sign that she recognizes any meaningful bounds on the role of the Supreme Court. In her view, "the text of the Constitution tends to reflect broad principles, not specific prescriptions," and "broad language may legitimately be interpreted broadly [by the Supreme Court], in a manner informed by evolving notions of a decent society." (80 N.Y.U. L. Rev. at 1098.) Among the matters that Wood doesn't address is how it is that the Court has the authority to override democratic enactments based on its own reading of language whose meaning is, in relevant respects, indeterminate.

You can see clear outlines of the conservative case against Wood here: she's a judicial activist who will expand rights beyond what the Constitution dictates. If the recent buzz is any indication, Democrats should be getting ready to respond.