Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, one of Pres. Obama’s candidates for the Supreme Court, will be visiting the White House tomorrow, raising her profile among those handicapping the nomination.
These types of visits tend to surround Supreme Court nominations, and frequently are nothing more than courtesy calls. Granholm has distinct weaknesses as a nominee, but probably no fatal ones. She has no prior judicial experience. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) withdrew his support for her, though one would expect him to back her if Obama actually nominated her. Moreover, Granholm has had tax problems, though at this juncture that seems more like a prerequisite for Obama than a disqualification. Besides, with the Senate Republicans already lowering expectations that they are planning any major political fight, Obama has a relatively free hand.
What Granholm has going for her is unpopularity. Many blame her for Michigan’s dire economic conditions, which are far worse than the national average. If Obama nominated her to the Court, the political prospects for Michigan Democrats — and ultimately Obama — would likely improve at the margins. Michiganders would be glad to see Granholm go. At least one poll shows Lt. Gov. John Cherry losing to prospective challengers; he would probably be more formidable as governor. Obama’s intrusive meddling with Chrysler and General Motors on behalf of the UAW demonstrates the president’s interest in holding onto the Rust Belt now and in 2012.
Granholm, like the other names being floated, also fits Obama’s long-standing suggestion that Supreme Court Justices should have “empathy” for the disadvantaged. Indeed, on the campaign trail Obama invoked “empathy” as the reason he opposed the nomination of now-Chief Justice John Roberts, who told the Senate he viewed the position as being a neutral umpire. It is probably not a coincidence that we are starting to see outlets like The New Yorker running pieces on how insensitive Chief Justice Roberts is to the plight of the disadvantaged. Lefty lapdogs like Jeffrey Toobin certainly recognize that the White House will sell Granholm — or any other Obama nominee — as a necessary balance to the cruel white men appointed by fmr. Pres. Bush.