WASHINGTON -- Two more contenders with Chicago ties surfaced Wednesday on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee short list: federal appeals Judge Ann Williams and Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
Of the 10 leading potential nominees to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens -- a Chicago native -- five have significant Chicago links: Williams, on the Chicago-based U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals; Diane Wood, also on the 7th Circuit; Solicitor General Elena Kagan, a former professor at the University of Chicago Law School; the Lincolnwood-raised Merrick Garland on the D.C Court of Appeals, and Minow, a New Trier East graduate, class of 1972.
Minow earlier this month was sworn in as an Obama appointee to the Legal Services Corp., where she is vice chairwoman. Minow is the daughter of Newton Minow, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and a senior counsel at Chicago's Sidley Austin. When Obama was at Harvard Law School, Minow recommended that Sidley hire him for a summer job in Chicago. Obama took the job and met his future wife, Michelle, at the firm.
Williams was mentioned last year as a possible replacement for Justice David Souter in the appointment that went to Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Williams was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, where she was the first African-American woman to serve in the circuit. She was elevated to the appellate court by President Bill Clinton. A former third-grade teacher in Detroit, she was an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago before becoming a judge.
Obama on Wednesday said he would decide on a nominee by next month. He said he was not going to apply any abortion-rights "litmus tests."
"But I will say that I want somebody who is going to be interpreting our Constitution in a way that takes into account individual rights, and that includes women's rights," he said. "That's going to be something that's very important to me."