Supreme Court possibilities if Romney wins election

In the wake of the Supreme Court's heatlh care ruling, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that defeating Obama is the only way to repeal the law.

Story highlights

  • The Republican nominee has not specified publicly on favorites for the court
  • Many names are relatively young judges appointed by George W. Bush.
  • Seven potential candidates are appeals court judges

Here is an unofficial list of potential nominees for the Supreme Court if Mitt Romney is elected president in November. This list was compiled from a number of sources, including those serving as informal advisers to the Romney campaign. The Republican nominee has not specified publicly on favorites for the court. Many names mentioned are relatively young judges named to the federal bench by President George W. Bush.

Elections raises stakes for possible high court vacancies

Paul Clement, former U.S. Solicitor General

Born 1966. Considered by many as one of the best lawyers of his generation. The Wisconsin native went to Harvard Law School where he was a classmate of President Barack Obama, and later clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia. He served as solicitor general under President George W. Bush and earned raves for his persuasive, conservational style at oral arguments. Now a private attorney, he has become the go-to guy among conservatives to lead appeals on a variety of hot-button issues: health care reform, same-sex marriage, immigration enforcement, and gun rights. He personally argued seven cases in the 2011 term, including the health care petitions. He has been strategically coy about his chances for the high court, saying he would be honored but remains focused on his law practice.

Supreme Court possibilities if Obama is reelected

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit

Born 1965. Began his job May 2006 in a court that has seen several of its former members make the jump to the Supreme Court. A former top official in the George W. Bush White House. His nomination to a federal appeals court for the D.C. circuit was held up for three years by Democrats. Senators Patrick Leahy and Richard Durbin later accused Kavanaugh of misleading the Judiciary Committee during his confirmation over whether he helped formulate policy on the detention and questioning of accused terrorists held overseas by the U.S. military. He is relatively young and considered one of the brightest conservative legal minds. He co-authored the Starr Report investigation of President Bill Clinton and clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy and conservative appeals court Judge Alex Kozinski.

Judge Diane Sykes, 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, Milwaukee

Born 1957. A former private lawyer, county judge, and justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Named to current post in 2004. She is a Federalist Society member and her profile has been increasing among many conservatives. Being a woman and from the Midwest may be seen as pluses if Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg were to step down. Wrote a 2011 opinion affirming firing ranges were protected under the Second Amendment, tossing out enforcement of a city ban in Chicago.

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Sen. Mike Lee, Republican from Utah

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Born 1971. The youngest U.S. senator. The rising GOP star may have the best credentials of any lawmaker to be a justice. Like Romney, he is a Mormon. Lee is a former appellate and constitutional lawyer in Utah and Washington, who twice clerked for Justice Samuel Alito, on both the federal appeals court and later the Supreme Court. His father, Rex, is a former U.S. solicitor general and founding dean at Brigham Young Law School. Lee faces re-election in 2016, and may feel politically obliged to complete his first Senate term before considering a judicial seat.

Judge Steven Colloton, 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, works in Des Moines, Iowa

Born 1963. Appointed by George W. Bush and former law clerk to the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He is a former Justice Department lawyer, U.S. Attorney in Iowa, and lawyer in the Starr Independent Counsel investigation of President Bill Clinton.

Judge Neil Gorsuch, 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, Denver

Born 1967. Appointed by George W. Bush. Harvard law School graduate who clerked for Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. He went into private practice in Washington before joining the Bush Justice Department. His mother, Anne Burford, was the first woman to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. He wrote the book: "The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia."

Judge Jeffrey Sutton, 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, works in Columbus, Ohio

Born 1960. Appointed by George W. Bush. He once clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia. He was the state solicitor in Ohio. Considered a conservative intellectual force on the court. But Republicans may not forgive him when Sutton became the first Republican-appointed judge to back the health care reform law championed by President Barack Obama.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit

Born 1949. Former California Supreme Court justice, who was among the first African-Americans appointed to that bench. Regarded as a strong reliable conservative in GOP circles. Her father was a sharecropper and she attended segregated schools before moving to Sacramento. She worked in the state attorney general's office, was Gov. Pete Wilson's legal secretary, and a state appeals judge. A former liberal and considered iconoclastic with strong religious convictions. Her nomination to the federal appeals court for the D.C. Circuit was held up by partisan wrangling. That and her age would be factors against high court consideration.

Judge Allyson Duncan, 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, works in Raleigh, North Carolina

Born 1951. Appointed by George W. Bush. First African-American woman on that court. Strong resume: Duke University Law School, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission attorney -- where she worked with Clarence Thomas. Law professor and private attorney.

      Election 2012

    • CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06:  U.S. President Barack Obama stands on stage with first lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden after his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

      A black man is returning to the White House. Four years ago, it was a first, the breaking of a racial barrier. Tuesday night, it was history redux. And more.
    • CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06:  U.S. President Barack Obama stands on stage after his victory speech at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

      The 2012 presidential election shattered spending records, further polarized a divided country and launched a thousand hashtags.
    • Even though voters indicated to pollsters that their financial situation is the same or worse than it was four years ago, they put their trust in the president.
    • US President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of supporters on stage on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. President Barack Obama swept to re-election Tuesday, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad        (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

      The president faces a long and familiar set of challenges after riding a wave of support from moderates, women and minorities to victory.
    • Republicans kept a lock on the U.S. House of Representatives, a crucial victory after the party failed to wrest away the presidency from Barack Obama and the Senate from the Democrats.