Argues the Case for Diane Wood

The long, clear, inspiring record of Diane Wood
Glenn Greenwald
April 19, 2010

If one were to analogize the search for Justice Stevens' replacement to the recently concluded health care debate, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diane Wood would be the public option.  Just as the truly left-wing health care approach (a single-payer system) was eliminated from consideration before the process even began, so, too, have the truly left-wing candidates to replace Justice Stevens (Pam Karlan, Harold Koh) been ruled out as "not viable."  As a result, the moderate/progressive compromises (i.e., the public option for health care and Diane Wood for Stevens' replacement) are falsely cast as some sort of liberal extremism, merely because they're the least conservative options allowed to be considered.  Contrary to how she's now being cast, Judge Wood is a very cautious and law-based jurist who resides far from the further left end of the mainstream judicial spectrum, and her most distinctive attribute is the uniform respect and collegial relationships she has with her conservative colleagues on one of the nation's most right-wing courts.

Although many progressives would likely choose a more ideological or left-wing legal theorist if they had free reign to pick, an objective review of Wood's record -- as a Clinton DOJ official prosecuting anti-trust cases, as the first female tenured faculty member at the University of Chicago Law School, and as an appellate judge for the last 15 years -- reveals what a truly ideal replacement she would be for Justice Stevens.  Having spent much time reviewing her clear, lengthy and substantial record, as well as interviewing former clerks and colleagues (all on the record), there is ample compelling evidence demonstrating why she would be such an asset on the Court:

Wood's ability to craft legal opinions to induce conservative judges to join her opinions is renown, as is the respect she commands from them through unparalleled diligence and force of intellect.  As a political matter, she'd have a long list of right-wing judges and professors at Chicago (where she still teaches) lined up to vouch for her, thus blunting efforts to depict her as some kind of Far Leftist.  Her expertise in anti-trust law and economics is (a) especially relevant now given the cases likely to come before the Court in the wake of the financial crisis and (b) rare for a federal judge on the liberal/Democratic side.  The similarity between her jurisprudence and Justice Stevens' is striking and easy to document, thus ensuring that (at the very least) she will maintain the Court's balance; unlike a Kagan selection, there is no risk Wood will move the Court to the Right and, in some important respects, could very well do the opposite.

Diane P. Wood