During my brief vacation last week, I read Jeffrey Toobin’s excellent new book The Oath that examines President Obama’s complicated relationship with the Supreme Court. The book gives a background of the justices and analyzes the major cases brought before the Court over the last couple of years. One passage in particular, on Obama’s consideration of Sonia Sotomayor for an open spot on the Court, struck me:
He sensed an authenticity in [Sotomayor], and no one had to remind the president of the political appeal of appointing the first Hispanic to the Supreme Court. If he had a chance to make history in this way, with an impeccably qualified nominee, Obama was going to do it.
What major appointment will Obama make in the near future that has an impeccably qualified nominee who would make history as well? Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve of course! The Supreme Court and the Fed are certainly different institutions and Obama has clearly shown an affinity to Larry Summers that he did not have for the other prospective Supreme Court nominee, Diane Wood. But the similarities are still striking.
Meanwhile, more reports are floating around that Obama is leaning towards Summers for the job. As I’ve said before, I’m very skeptical about any reporting on who the next Fed Chair will be. Maybe it’ll be Summers. Maybe Yellen. We’ll know in a short time. The decision will be kept under lock-and-key until the President announces his choice. Until then, we can hold out hope that Toobin’s intuition on Obama’s Supreme Court nominee holds true for his Fed Chair nominee as well.