06/09/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

John Paul Stevens Retires: Two Chicagoans Could Replace Him In The Supreme Court

On Friday, Supreme Court Justice and Chicago native John Paul Stevens announced that he will retire from the bench this summer.

Huffington Post has conducted interviews with Supreme Court scholars and observers to determine likely successors to Justice Stevens. And, as Chicagoist reports, two of the front-runners have ties to Chicago themselves.

Diane Wood, 59, is currently serving on the Seventh District Circuit Court of Appeals, located right here in Chicago. Wood is a staunch liberal and a Clinton appointee; HuffPolitics reports that "she has amassed a substantial judicial track record and served as a liberal foil to conservative heavyweights on the Circuit Court."

But her liberal track record could be a potential obstacle for Wood, who will have to be confirmed by a sharply polarized Senate. The Republican minority has already threatened to filibuster whoever President Obama might nominate; someone like Wood, who has ruled on hot-button issues like abortion, might be deemed too divisive a nominee.

Another widely discussed possible nominee is D.C. Circuit Court judge Merrick Garland. Garland was born in Chicago in 1952, raised in Lincolnwood, and graduated from Niles West High School in Skokie, before going on to graduate at the top of his class from Harvard.

Contrary to Judge Wood, though, Judge Garland might prove too conservative for President Obama, who is replacing one of the most stalwartly liberal justices in the Court's recent history. And Obama may also be looking for more diversity in his appointee -- Merrick Garland is a white male.

The other front-runner being mentioned in the early hours is New York-born Solicitor General Elena Kagan.

Meanwhile, Illinois Democratic Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias has issued a press release praising Stevens, describing his "remarkable career" on the bench.

"A son of Chicago, he has made all of us in Illinois proud and left an indelible and important mark on American jurisprudence," the release reads.

It also uses the occasion to score a political point against Republican opponent Mark Kirk:

"I encourage my opponent, Republican Congressman Mark Kirk, to state publicly the characteristics he would look for in a nominee, which he declined to do during the confirmation process for now-Justice Sonia Sotomayor. In particular, does he agree with his high-profile surrogate John McCain that the ideal Supreme Court Justices are John Roberts and Samuel Alito?"

Stevens will leave the Court in late June or early July of this year.