Washington DC (GlossyNews) — In a surprise move President Obama is set to nominate media mogul Oprah Winfrey to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
According to sources Winfrey will continue starring in her popular television show while serving on the court, and there is no change in her plan to launch new cable tv programming next year.
“With her new cable show airing at night, she’ll have more flexibility in her schedule,” said a senior administration official. “There will be a transition period, but she’s a superstar who can multitask.”
An early and enthusiastic supporter, Ms. Winfrey campaigned for Obama in the Democratic primaries as well as the general election.
Additionally, Winfrey was under consideration for appointment to Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat by then Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. She declined, perhaps holding out for an even bigger prize.
Washington insiders see Ms. Winfrey’s Supreme Court nomination as a political masterstroke, while media experts say the move could boost her tv ratings.
“She’ll sail through the Senate,” said one longtime political observer. “Who would be crazy enough to hold up her nomination when one word on her show could make them or break them? Nobody messes with Oprah.”
“Her new show was already going to be a huge hit,” observed an advertising agency executive. “This can only help.”
And breaking with the strict Court tradition of refraining from commenting on nominees, Justice Antonin Scalia seemed positively giddy. “I think she’d be a fun Justice,” Scalia said. “I’m a big fan of hers.”
Meanwhile, Justice Samuel Alito was seen nodding his head and mouthing the words “good choice” while watching a selection from his extensive Oprah DVD collection.
In the Senate, Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Dick Durbin called on their colleagues for a quick confirmation. “This historic nomination should not be victimized by the petty politics of obstruction,” said Senator Reid, reached at a casino poker game in his home state of Nevada.
But Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell linked the Winfrey nomination to the recent passage of healthcare reform.
“This is all very interesting,” McConnell said, “but the American people do not like the healthcare bill, and do not like the way it was shoved down their throats. I’m sure my Republican colleagues are as focused as I am on repealing this government takeover of our healthcare system.”
Political considerations and television ratings aside, Supreme Court scholars were split on Winfrey’s qualifications to serve on the high court.
“How about nominating a judge or a lawyer or something?” asked a senior research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
“Grow up. She’s smart, what’s the difference?” retorted a researcher formerly with the Brookings Institution.
Ms. Winfrey was unavailable for comment.