Women Dominate List of Possible US Supreme Court Replacements

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will make his first appointment to the US Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice David Souter soon, and speculation has mounted on his potential choice.Obama, a former constitutional law professor, is expected to choose a judge who would follow in the footsteps of the left-leaning Souter and be unlikely to dramatically change the court's ideological balance.But he faces heavy pressure from advocacy groups to pick a woman or the court's first Hispanic.An early list floated by a source familiar with his thinking was dominated by women.The last three justices named to the court were white men, and the court's only woman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg says she does not plan to retire any time soon.Obama said he wanted someone with a sharp and independent mind to replace Souter. He often said on the campaign trail that his ideal Supreme Court justice would be someone who could empathize with the daily lives and hardships of Americans.Here are six names floated recently as possibilities to fill Obama's first Supreme Court vacancy:-- Sonia Sotomayor, 54, a judge on the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. Sotomayor, a graduate of Yale Law, would be a hit with two political constituencies given her Hispanic heritage.-- Elena Kagan, 49, is the solicitor general, appointed by Obama to argue cases before the Supreme Court, and a former dean of the Harvard Law School. She served as associate counsel to President Bill Clinton and as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and taught at the University of Chicago Law School where Obama also taught.-- Diane Wood, 58, a judge on the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, also knows Obama from teaching at the University of Chicago Law School. She has been targeted at times by conservative groups for her defense of abortion rights, creating a potentially difficult confirmation process.She served in the Justice Department's Antitrust Division during the Clinton administration. …