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Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the court’s oldest member and leader of its liberal bloc, is retiring. President Barack Obama now has his second high court opening to fill.

Stevens said Friday he will step down when the court finishes its work for the summer in late June or early July. He said he hopes his successor is confirmed ‘well in advance of the commencement of the court’s next term.’

Check out the list of possible replacements for Justice Stevens

Leading candidates to replace Stevens include

Solicitor General Elena Kagan, 49,

There appears to be a growing consensus that Solicitor General Elena Kagan is the front-runner for the position. Kagan comes armed with a formidable set of credentials: Associate White House Counsel during the Clinton Administration; Professor and then Dean of Harvard Law School; and now, Solicitor General of the United States, the appointee tasked with representing the U.S. Government in cases before the Supreme Court.


Federal Appellate judges Merrick Garland, 57

Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has also received a considerable degree of attention.

Garland is generally considered a moderate. But his prior work under the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, says Professor Tushnet, could ‘give him a pro-prosecution bent. He’s almost certainly to the right of Wood and Kagan.’


Diane Wood, 59, in Chicago.

Judge Diane Wood of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has been firmly entrenched on the Democratic short list for the Supreme Court.

Appointed in 1995 by President Clinton, she has amassed a substantial judicial track record and served as a liberal foil to conservative heavyweights on the Circuit Court, including Richard Posner and Frank Easterbrook. She previously burnished her credentials as a lawyer on the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.


Cass Sunstein

A former law professor at Harvard, last year joined the Obama administration as the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the Office of Management and Budget. Widely revered in academic circles, he is another serious contender for a spot on the Court.


Jennifer Granholm

In the current political climate, President Obama is likely to want a swift and painless confirmation process for Stevens’ replacement. A politically risky or less-than-established nominee is unlikely. Still, a few other names have been bandied about with some frequency.


Pamela Karlan

Pamela Karlan is the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law at Stanford Law School. Although widely touted as a potential Supreme Court nominee, her decidedly liberal disposi

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