Senator Hatch: Hillary Clinton’s name being mentioned as possible Stevens replacement (UPDATE: WH THROWS COLD WATER ON HILLARY SPEC)

Oh heavens – can you imagine the fight in the Senate should la Clinton be named as Obama’s nominee to replace retiring SCOTUS Justice John Paul Stevens?

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, one of the top Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Monday morning that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been mentioned as a possible nominee to the Supreme Court.

“I even heard the name Hillary Clinton today, and that would be an interesting person in the mix,” Hatch said on NBC’s “Today Show.”

The senator said he would not pre-judge whether any potential nominee would be an appropriate candidate to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, but he had general praise for the secretary of state.

“I happen to like Hillary Clinton, I think she’s done a good job for the Democrats — Secretary of State’s position,” Hatch said, “and I have high respect for her, and think a great deal of her.”

Hatch said the confirmation process for President Obama’s nominee could go smoothly.

“If the president picks somebody who is clearly qualified, there is no question we can get that person through in a relatively short period of time,” he said. “On the other hand, if he picks an activist judge… we ought to do everything in our power to defeat that person.”

No disrespect intended, but is Hatch smoking crack here? He believes Hillary Clinton’s done a “good job” at State. Oh really? Doesn’t want an activist Justice, but “thinks a great deal” Hillary Clinton, and believes she’d be an “interesting” nominee? Does he not believe she’d be an activist Justice if nominated and confirmed? This woman has been an activist all her life. Besides that, the controversy surrounding the ‘legality’ of her cattle futures trades alone should be enough to cast serious doubt on her nomination, not to mention the fact that her views on issues that most certainly would come before the court (global warming and abortion, for example) have been well-known for years, so her objectivity would be (and should be) in serious doubt. I really hope the Obama admin is not stupid enough to seriously be considering her as their nominee for SCOTUS. Then again, if they do nominate her, the opportunities would be rich for Republicans to continue to paint this administration as nothing more than radical liberal idealogues.

In related news, Jake Tapper reports on some other names on Obama’s short list to replace Stevens:

We told you that 7th circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diane Wood, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, DC Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano are on the short, list — and now we’ve learned another.

Former Georgia Supreme Court chief justice Leah Ward Sears is also on the short list, a senior White House official tells ABC News.??

Sears, who will turn 55 in June, was the first female African-American chief justice in US history, and when nominated for the state supreme court by then-Gov. Zell Miller in 1992, she became the first woman and the youngest person to ever sit on the court.??

She stepped down from the court last year and currently practices law at Schiff Hardin.??

A graduate of Emory University Law School, Sears was on President Obama’s short list last year. A member of the left-leaning American Constitution Society, she is also a friend of conservative Justice Clarence Thomas.?

Last but not least, the WaPo reports on how Senate GOPers are jockeying for position over the anticipated battle over whoever Obama eventually picks. The nominee “better be mainstream,” they say. But are they expecting a “mainstream” pick or someone who is clearly a radical?

I’ve seen some pundits out there suggest that Obama will pick a “mainstream” type nominee in order to avoid further alienating the crucial “independent” voter block prior to this year’s Congressional elections. However, with the writing on the wall and all the predictions and polling out there that show November could shape up to be an electoral bloodbath for Democrats, it could be that he’ll go ahead and throw caution to the wind because, regardless of what happens in November, his SCOTUS pick – should he or she be confirmed in short order, as Democrats are saying will happen – will be, as all SCOTUS Justices are, a lifetimer, so his “legacy” on the court would be felt for decades to come.

And in the end, that – and turning this country into a Socialist “utopia” of sorts – is what this President is all about, right?

Update – 12:46 PM: In response to news reports about la Clinton’s name being mentioned as a possibility for the SCOTUS, the WH sez:

“The President thinks Secretary Clinton is doing an excellent job as Secretary of State and wants her to remain in that position,” said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor.

Clinton’s spokesman had said she was flattered by Hatch’s flotation, though happy in her current posts, and others in Clinton’s circle had quietly responded warmly to the notion.

But Veitor’s comment is aimed at putting an end to the speculation.

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