It’s the middle of the night after a very long day, so this will be a short entry. Exhaustion could keep me from weighing in briefly at this critical moment.
With tonight’s announcement that Justice Souter is retiring from the Supreme Court, it has suddenly become clear what the enduring act of President’s Obama’s next 100 days will be: the nomination of his first Supreme Court justice.
Though nominated by a Republican, Souter is a reliable liberal justice, so there is little reason to believe that this nomination will alter the balance of power on the court. But President Obama can still make this nomination a game changer. He can tap Kimberle Crenshaw for the job.
Kimberle Crenshaw is a field-defining critical race scholar who earned a law degree from Harvard. Her writings on race, gender, and the power of law dynamically altered the academic discourse in law schools throughout the world. Her work has been central to political movements here in the United States and to the development of emerging democracies globally. She is a prolific legal scholar and a respected public intellectual.
There is no one on the current court with the expansive, progressive, clarity of legal reasoning that Crenshaw has demonstrated for more than twenty years. As a justice Crenshaw would have the potential to substantially revise our understanding of American constitutional law by articulating elements of the American experience that have never before been integrated into our constitutional interpretation. She would open up the unique possibility of black feminist scholarship and practice challenging American jurisprudence from the inside out.
I recognize that Crenshaw is an unlikely choice. But on Wednesday night during his "100 Days" press conference President Obama smiled as he remembered that he once trailed by 30 points in Iowa. He encouraged us to think of his own election as an example of our nation’s willingness to embrace surprising new leaders at this moment of change and opportunity. I take him at his word. Time for Kimberle Crenshaw on the Supreme Court. Change indeed!