Baltimore Sun op-ed: Bring back O'Connor to fill Scalia's seat

Baltimore Sun op-ed: Bring back O'Connor to fill Scalia's seat
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Political experts say President Obama should bring Sandra Day O’Connor back to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

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In an op-ed piece in The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday, William Blake, an assistant political science professor at the University of Maryland, and Hans Hacker, an associate political science professor at Arkansas State University, say the 86-year-old former justice would be a perfect choice.

“Under these circumstances, her age is a significant asset,” they wrote. “She is more than capable of serving on the court for a year or two, after which she could retire and the new president could use his or her political mandate to appoint a younger justice.”

O’Connor, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, retired from the bench in 2006 to care for her ailing husband, but Blake and Hacker say she's still capable of writing pragmatic judicial decisions and her nomination would be a shrewd political move.

“Republican leaders routinely tout President Reagan as an icon; a vote against confirming Justice O'Connor would be an admission that the patron saint of the modern Republican Party wasn't infallible,” they said. “Senate Republicans couldn't question Justice O'Connor's credentials. And they would be unable to cast her appointment as one that would shape the court for the next generation.”

Wondering if a justice has ever been brought back to the court? Blake and Hacker say it has, but not since 1930 when Charles Evans Hughes rejoined the court as the chief justice after having stepped down to run for president in 1916.

Political and legal watchdogs have been tossing out ideas as to who Obama could choose to fill the seat since news of Scalia’s death broke on Saturday. Potential names on the short-list include Sri Srinivasan, 48, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Jane Kelly, a judge on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — both were unanimously confirmed to their posts by the Senate in 2013.