Mitt Romney. (Photo credit JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages)
By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
The Supreme Court is back to work today, prompting a round of stories about why possible vacancies aren't being discussed in the presidential election and who would Mitt Romney appoint if he gets elected.
It's not unreasonable to think that the next president could be in a position to appoint a Supreme Court justice. While the justices have lifetime appointments, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy will all be in their 80s during the next president's term.
And as USA TODAY's Richard Wolf reported in his preview of the court's new term, the justices will consider some of the nation's most politically divisive issues -- including affirmative action and same-sex marriage.
On his website, Romney says he would nominate federal judges in the mold of Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Romney says his judicial appointees "will exhibit a genuine appreciation for the text, structure, and history of our Constitution and interpret the Constitution and the laws as they are written. And his nominees will possess a demonstrated record of adherence to these core principles."
One person frequently mentioned as a possible Romney court pick is Paul Clement, the former U.S. solicitor general who argued against President Obama's health care law earlier this year and for Arizona's immigration law. Former U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft told New York magazine that it is "my aspiration, and expectation, that Paul will serve not only on a bench but the bench."
Clement, Brett Kavanaugh and Diane Sykes are all named in stories today by CNN and Yahoo! about possible Romney court appointments. Kavanaugh and Sykes serve on federal appellate courts, the level that's sometimes considered a stepping stone to the high court.
One interesting name that jumped out from the CNN list: Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a Tea Party favorite who was elected in 2010. Lee clerked for Alito when Alito was an appeals court judge. Lee's father, Rex, was solicitor general in Ronald Reagan's first term.