Judge Sidney Thomas Tops President Barack Obama’s list of potential nominees to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Judge Sidney Thomas

President Barack Obama is seriously reviewing about 10 people as a potential nominee to replace Justice John Paul Stevens, who is retiring this summer.

Among the others under consideration are former Georgia Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, federal appeals court judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Judge Sidney Thomas, 56, of Billings, Mont., serves on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the largest of the nation's appellate courts. He was nominated to the federal bench in July 1995 by then-President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in January 1996, with no controversy, in a voice vote.

Judge Thomas comes from Western roots — born in Bozeman, Mont., bachelor's degree from Montana State University, law degree from the University of Montana. Thomas worked in private practice in Billings and was an adjunct community college law professor there for years before becoming a federal judge.

Second on the top list is federal appeals court Judges Diane Wood; Wood, an appeals court judge in Chicago who has worked at the State Department, the Justice Department and in private practice. Like Obama, she taught at the University of Chicago Law School.

Elena Kagan, who stepped down as dean of Harvard Law School to become the nation's first female solicitor general. Like Obama, she has her law degree from Harvard and taught at the University of Chicago Law School.

Brief Profile

Governor Jennifer Granholm:
Michigan governor and former federal prosecutor and Michigan attorney general.

Janet Napolitano.
The homeland security chief who is a former Arizona governor and a former federal prosecutor.

Merrick Garland:
Federal appeals court judges in Washington, a former high-ranking Justice Department official.

 Leah Ward Sears:
She was the first black female to serve as the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, who is now in private practice after a long career on the bench.

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