Would serving as Solicitor General help or hurt a SCOTUS shortlist member’s prospects for the Supreme Court?
Day by day, the Biden cabinet comes together. Xavier Becerra was tapped as HHS Secretary, which means he is out of the running for Attorney General. So far, the DOJ leadership remains unannounced. Demand Justice has called on Biden to nominate a Black woman for Solicitor General. This short-list includes one important overlap with the group’s SCOTUS short list: California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.
Would accepting the SG nomination be a good move for Kruger? The conventional wisdom is, of course! The Solicitor General is an elite position, and it has served as the stepping stone for Justices Elena Kagan and Thurgood Marshall. (Then again, Ken Starr stepped down from the D.C. Circuit to serve as Solicitor General, perhaps in the hopes of being elevated to the Supreme Court; that plan did not pan out.) Also, this nomination would allow Kruger to closely work with the Biden administration, build trust, and presumably move to the apex of the short list.
Are there downsides? Of course. One of the benefits of being a sitting judge is that you can stay out of the political fray. At this point, Kruger has a spotless record. She served in the Solicitor General’s office with distinction. As far as I am aware, she has not written any controversial decisions on the California Supreme Court. In a 52-48 Senate, she would be easily confirmed.
But several facets of the SG job may add some spots to a spotless record. First, her SG confirmation hearing would be a dress rehearsal for her Suprem
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