"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)


Jewish Animal Rights Advocate Mentioned for Supreme Court Pick

Legal scholar Cass Sunstein, a Jew and an animal rights advocate, has been mentioned as a potential replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Reports by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, and FOX News, among other media outlets, have floated around his name. To the best of my knowledge, there is no compelling reason to believe that Sunstein is currently on President Barack Obama's "short list" of potential nominees.

In January 2009, when Obama tapped Sunstein to oversee the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs as "regulatory czar," I discussed Sunstein's advocacy of animal rights in legal writing, public speaking, and his co-editing of the book Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions. In May 2009, I noted that Sunstein was mentioned as a potential replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter and that CBS' Andrew Cohen had said, "If the White House picks a white guy then I’m betting that Sunstein’s the man." Justice Sonia Sotomayor was eventually nominated and confirmed for that open position.

Sunstein's nomination for regulatory czar did not go as smoothly as I initially expected. In June 2009, I blogged about how Sunstein had still not been confirmed for the position because of opposition to his animal rights advocacy. It wasn't until September 2009 that the Senate finally confirmed Sunstein. According to The New York Times' The Caucus, the Senate approval followed criticism "on both the right and the left," a cloture vote, and 30 hours of debate.

"If Sunstein was getting this kind of flak when he was a nominee for an obscure regulatory position, imagine the controversy if he was nominated to the nation's highest court," Mother Jones noted in predicting that Obama "probably won't nominate" Sunstein. I'm not an expert on the politics of Supreme Court nominations, but like it or not, Mother Jones' assessment seems pretty logical.


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