THE BLOG

Souter Retires Glass Ceiling Cracks

05/25/2011 01:20 pm ET

By Stephen C. Rose

When Justice Souter retires at the close of the U.S. Supreme Court's present term, speculation is heavy that a woman will replace him. Among the speculations is the possibility that the wife of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell will be considered. That would be Marjorie Rendell, known as Midge. From an illuminating 2002 profile:

She and Rendell have been married for 31 years.

It was a courtship from which legends have sprung, and the true story bears being told.

The former Marjorie Osterlund, who grew up in Wilmington, Del., was a junior at the University of Pennsylvania when she and her date went to a party thrown by a brassy young man at Villanova Law School. Yes, it was Rendell. His apartment was known as the "Ape House."

Well, there was some sort of spark, because the next morning, she got a phone call from Rendell, asking her to go to lunch.

He had called her date -- David Montgomery, now president of the Philadelphia Phillies -- to get permission and her phone number. Montgomery gave both, but he wanted a candy bar thrown in to sweeten the deal, Stiles recounts.

The two dated until she graduated in 1969 and moved to Washington, D.C., to go to Georgetown Law. She dated other men, but when she returned to Philadelphia, she and Rendell hooked up again.

"He's this amazing person," she said in a 1997 interview with Philadelphia Magazine. "He's larger than life. He's just too much. But after Ed, everybody else was too little." SOURCE

Thus Judge Marjorie Rendell of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Another woman who might be seriously considered is Judge Judith W. Rogers of the US Appeals Court for the District of Columbia. She is a graduate of Harvard Law and was formerly Corporation Counsel for the District of Columbia.

The Souter vacancy may be a chance to test the leftward tilt meme that has accompanied the President's relatively unopposed march to a leadership position. In essence, the meme is that the center itself has moved leftward. I have always seen it as valid centrism gaining some wiggle room. The tip off would be an unopposed nomination and I assume that the President's sage choice will facilitate that.

UPDATE:

Neither of the worthies mentioned above is included among the woman candidates surmised in this WAPO account. There is no dearth of qualified women for this first Obama appointment.