I was doing a little surfing on some state-level blogs in my home state of Colorado - and I found an interesting tidbit from last week that seems to have gone largely unreported in the national press. Apparently, Colorado district court judge Christine Arguello confirmed in an intereview with a local paper that she was being vetted for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now, that story is a few days old, but I think Arguello’s name is worth bringing up for one very specific reason: President Obama is facing pressure from a lot of people to appoint a person who meets specific criteria in the areas of demographics, experience, age, attitude, etc. The laundry list of “requirements” is almost nauseating to read - and almost impossible to find embodied in one person. This is why I’m intrigued by this woman - because up to now, she is the only candidate who meets all of the “qualifications”.
Female? Check. Hispanic? Check. Under 55? Check. Lengthy experience outside the courts? Check (only a District Judge since late last October, previously a tenured law professor, a top aide to Ken Salazar, and a counsel to the University of Colorado). Intellectual heft to satisfy Obama’s desire for an academic? Check. “Empathy” for the working class? Check (daughter of a railroad worker, family lived in a boxcar for a while during her childhood).
To top it off, Arguello could be shopped as a “bi-partisan” choice, as she was appointed to her current position by George W. Bush in the last days of his administration. Granted, that probably had more to do with getting her through the Senate, as Bush had specifically chosen not to renominate her earlier in his term (Bill Clinton had nominated her for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and her nomination was still pending when Bush took office).
Her ties to Ken Salazar may also help - as Salazar has himself been agressively pushed for the nomination by Hispanic groups and his fellow Coloradoans. However, as there is an even stronger push for a woman to take the seat, Salazar will likely be unjustly pushed off the short list due to his ownership of a Y chromosome. Arguello gives Obama a chance to tip his hat to both the Hispanic community and Salazar personally while still nominating a woman.
I would also say that her lengthy experience in non-judicial positions, and the fact that she does not sit on a circuit court (a qualification emphasized by several senators) gives Arguello a distinct advantage over the other Hispanic woman being mentioned for the job - Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. And last but not least, Arguello graduated from the same law school as President Obama - if that means anything.
Now, it’s entirely possible that Arguello struck out in the vetting. There could be problems we don’t know about, or the administration could have decided that her views aren’t what they are looking for. However, they have been implying that they are looking at potentially surprising nominees, and at first glance, Christine Arguello looks like their dream candidate.
So, you heard it here first - and while the rest of the world reacts in shock to Judge Arguello’s nomination, we at R4′12 can say that we were watching her all along.