With the retirement of Justice Souter, President Obama has the opportunity to remake the Supreme Court. The media, speculating on potential replacements, is focusing on the usual suspects of federal justices. But the president would be wise to go back to the future and appoint an elected politician with a legal background to fill the anticipated vacancy.

Some of my best friends are lawyers. But it’s time to change the Court and add another dimension to its deliberations. All nine of the current justices have been judges; it’s time to pick a nominee with political experience.

The Supreme Court justice who did the most to change modern American society and to translate the promises of equality in the Declaration of Independence into reality was Earl Warren, who was governor of California when appointed by President Eisenhower.

There are three candidates with political and legal experience who would make great justices. They are:

Janet Napolitano
, the current Secretary of Homeland Security and the former governor and attorney general of Arizona.

Jennifer Granholm, the governor and former attorney general of Michigan.

Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts and deputy attorney general in the Justice Department under Bill Clinton.

There is a lot to say for Supreme Court justices with political experience, especially as governors. They have lived and worked in the real world and not in an ivory tower. The can't be too dogmatic because they have to achieve consensus among a variety of groups to be successful. They are, after running for periodic reelection, much more in touch with the lives of ordinary people than appellate judges.

If President Obama really wants to change things in Washington, he should change the people on the Supreme Court.


Brad is president of Bannon Communications Research, a political consulting and polling firm for Democrats, labor unions and progressive issue groups.