In his book The Audacity of Hope, Obama writes that the Constitution is a "living document" that "envisions a road map by which we marry passion to reason, the ideal of individual freedom to the demands of community." He admonished Roberts for a lack of empathy during his confirmation hearings after the nominee likened the role of a judge to that of a sports umpire. And during his campaign, Obama said he'd appoint people who "understand what it means to be on the outside," those who recognize "who the weak are and who the strong are in our society."
So, where does that leave a Warren-type appointment? Unlike many of the names on the tea-leaf readers' shortlist—that includes Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor and former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder—a Warren mold would be an outsider, someone who had never been a judge. "Today, we have a court where all nine members served in immediate past jobs as federal courts of appeals judges," says Greenhouse. If Obama decides to mix it up a bit, he could pick his friend Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick or Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, that state's former attorney general, observers say. Whatever direction he is inclined to move, it most likely won't be long before the nation finds out.