The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


William Howard Obama?


From an interview at Coverage Opinions with leading constitutional law scholar Prof. Laurence Tribe (Harvard):

Justice Barack Obama?

President Obama will be only 55 years old when he leaves office. Even if he spends a few years after that earning money on the lecture circuit, he'll still be young enough to be a Supreme Court pick. His youth may cause him to want to be more than just an ex-President and the things that come with that. [President Taft's gap between the White House and Supreme Court was eight years.]

There are a lot of other reasons why Obama could someday end up a Supreme Court Justice. [This is not a political discussion. Coverage Opinions never gets into politics. It is simply objective observation.] There are very few real jobs that an ex-President can have, given their celebrity and the security issues. Supreme Court Justices are generally insulated from the public and the job already comes with a built-in security function. Obama has taught constitutional law. He is reported to be less than fond of political schmoozing. That is not a job requirement. And serving on the Supreme Court—thus in all three branches of the federal government—would have a huge impact on his legacy.

I asked Professor Tribe if he "can envision Obama someday wearing a robe at One First Street?" He replied: "That's not hard to envision. He would make a first-rate Justice on every dimension that matters."

[Incidentally, Obama, while a student at Harvard Law School, served as a research assistant to Professor Tribe for two and a half years. Tribe can point to a 1989 Harvard Law Review article where he thanked student Barack Obama for his assistance.]

(As readers might gather, I'm not saying this to recommend President Obama for the job, but the discussion by others struck me as worth mentioning.)