Diane Wood, a Chicago federal judge known for her extreme hostility to even minimal legal protections for the unborn, may be topping President Obama’s short list of replacements for retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, according to various news reports in recent days.
Obama has long entertained a Supreme Court possibility for Wood, who met face-to-face with the president and Vice President Biden Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Obama had also considered Wood following the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter last year, before choosing Justice Sonia Sotomayor, another supporter of legalized abortion.
Wood, a federal judge on the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals based in Chicago, was appointed to the position by President Clinton in 1995. A former clerk for Roe v. Wade author Justice Harry Blackmun, Wood dissented against the partial-birth abortion ban in Illinois and Wisconsin, as well as an Indiana informed consent law. The Supreme Court upheld a law nearly identical to the Indiana legislation in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Wood also authored the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the case National Organization for Women v. Scheidler, in which she sided with NOW’s attempt to silence Scheidler, the Pro-Life Action Network, and Operation Rescue, to extract large monetary damages, and to prevent them from protesting at abortion clinics. Wood’s decision was unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court in 2006.
Wood also wrote a dissenting opinion in Christian Legal Society v. Walker, in which she disagreed with the majority opinion that Southern Illinois University was wrong to revoke official student group status of a CLS chapter because it required its members to be Christian.
Analysts have recognized Wood as perhaps the most extreme left-leaning of the top contenders for the Supreme Court seat. “Probably no one, at least at the top of most short-lists, would elicit the fight that Wood would provoke,” noted Bill Saunders at the American Principles Project in April.
In addition to Wood, Obama has also recently met with federal Judges Merrick Garland and Sydney Thomas, as well as Solicitor General Elena Kagan, in the weeks since Stevens announced his intention to retire in the summer. Kagan is also known for strongly favoring taxpayer funding of abortion.
While vowing in April that there would be no “litmus test” on abortion for his Supreme Court pick, Mr. Obama simultaneously admitted that he would prefer to nominate “somebody who is going to be interpreting our Constitution in a way that takes into account individual rights, and that includes women’s rights.”
The president is expected to announce his pick for the next Supreme Court justice very soon: according to Roll Call, the president summoned two Senate Judiciary Republicans to the White House for closed meetings to discuss the Supreme Court nomination process Wednesday morning. A source with the Washington Post said that the final decision is expected early next week, but could happen even earlier.