A Supreme Suggestion: Ken Salazar

By Michael Riley, The Denver Post - May 24, 2009

WASHINGTON — Gov. Bill Ritter and the state's two freshman senators are asking President Barack Obama to "seriously consider" appointing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a letter sent to the White House on Friday, the Democrats touted the diversity and unique experience Salazar would bring to the bench — a Westerner who from hard-scrabble beginnings has risen to become one of the country's most successful Latino politicians.

"He would provide the viewpoint of a Western and Latino leader and bring a wealth of experience from his many years in both the public and private sectors," Ritter said of the push to consider Salazar to fill the spot being vacated by retiring Justice David Souter.

The West Watch Discuss: Should President Obama consider Salazar for the U.S. Supreme Court? push by Colorado Democrats to boost one of their own appears somewhat last-minute, coming as reports suggest that Obama could announce a pick as soon as Tuesday.

But it also pleased Latinos in the state, who had pressed Ritter and others to be more aggressive in lobbying for Salazar, a former state attorney general and U.S. senator whose name has been quietly circulated for the appointment for several weeks.

Salazar "is the utmost Hispanic qualified for the job in the state and in the country, in my opinion," said Paul Sandoval, an influential Democratic organizer from north Denver.

Sandoval said Colorado Latinos had been circulating Salazar's name as a potential Supreme Court pick even before Obama's election in November, adding that the Obama White House "is very aware of our goal to get Ken appointed."

Since Souter announced three weeks ago that he would retire, politicians and interest groups began weighing in with their picks, pressing for — depending on their priorities — an African-American, a Latino, a woman, a liberal to balance the Court's conservatives or a moderate who could sway from the middle.

Salazar had already appeared on the shortlist of some national Latino groups and was touted Post Poll - Salazar as Justice

Would you like to see Secretary Ken Salazar on the U.S. Supreme Court? (Read this related story) Yes No Don't know Don't caredocument.write(buttonHtml);Voting Requires Javascript function vote_disabled() { alert('Voting has been disabled on preview...'); } function vote_12437046_1243168558979() { var answerId = 0; var somethingChecked = false; var prefix = 'answer_12437046_1243168558979_'; var numOfAnswers = 4; for (var x=0; x < numOfAnswers; x++) { var aTemp = prefix + x; if (document.getElementById(aTemp).checked == true) { answerId = document.getElementById(aTemp).value; somethingChecked = true; } } if (somethingChecked) { document.getElementById("answerRepositoryId_12437046_1243168558979").value = answerId; document.getElementById("voteButton_12437046_1243168558979").click(); } else { alert("You must choose an answer to vote on a poll!"); } var mills = 1243168558979; } two weeks ago for the court appointment by Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrats from New York.

Salazar has never served as a judge, but there are indications that Obama is willing to consider real-world experience as he mulls the first court appointment from a Democratic president since Bill Clinton appointed Justice Stephen Breyer in 1994.

Janet Napolitano, the former Arizona governor and now secretary of Homeland Security, is reportedly a top contender for the appointment, as is Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Among the other Latinos said to be on the White House shortlist is Sonia Sotomayor, a U.S. appeals court judge.

The letter from Ritter and Colorado's senators cites Salazar's climb from "humble beginnings in Colorado's rural San Luis Valley" and his impressive political resume, suggesting he would bring one of the Latino community's leading voices to the court.

"Twice elected Colorado Attorney General, he distinguished himself as a leading voice on law enforcement, consumer protection and natural resource issues," said the letter, dated May 21.

"He has the intellect and a skill of bridging partisan divides," Sen. Mark Udall said. "He is set to be well-accomplished on the Supreme Court."

In a statement released by his office, Sen. Michael Bennet said, "It would be a loss to the Interior Department, but Ken Salazar would be a tremendous Supreme Court Justice." addthis_pub = 'mngi'; Print   Email   Font ResizeReturn to Top  

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