Northern Californians Harris, Watford Contenders to Replace Scalia

A couple of Northern Californians are being included on lists of top contenders to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. Senate Republicans, however, said they will oppose any appointment by President Barack Obama in his last year in office.

The two Northern Californians are State Attorney Gen. Kamala Harris, who enjoys a close relationship with the president, and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Paul Watford.

Watford graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and earned his law degree at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was also clerk for Justice Ruth Bater Ginsberg and appointed to the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2012,, approved by the Senate 61 to 34.

Harris is also a top contender on many court watchers lists. The former San Francisco district attorney is also a front-runner for the Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Boxer.

"And they are certainly plausible candidates, but most of the talk inside D.C. and outside California is about Srinivasan," said Bruce Cain, a political scientist with the Stanford Bill Lane Center.

Cain is referring to Sri Srinivasan, a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judge appointed by Obama and confirmed by the Senate three years ago on a unanimous vote of 97 to 0 -- a pick that could paint Republicans into a corner.

"Obama can say look what happened, that you can no longer appoint this person when you put them on the Court of Appeals with a unanimous vote," Cain said.

Cain said it would also embarrass the GOP and sway undecided voters.

Kenneth Scott, a Stanford law professor, political conservative and close friend of Scalia said Senate Republicans should at least debate Srinivasan.

"If his credentials hold up from his position on the D.C. Circuit, then I think that would be an appropriate thing to do," Scott said.

Scott also said it is clear the nomination process is not going anywhere, which throws the court in the middle of this year's presidential campaign.

Contact Us