Almost (Really) Famous: 9 Former Supreme Court Candidates

Mario Cuomo (seated with Hilary Clinton) declined President Bill Clinton's offer for Supreme Court candidacy.
Mario Cuomo (seated with Hilary Clinton) declined President Bill Clinton's offer for Supreme Court candidacy.
JENNIFER LAW, Getty Images

If she's confirmed, Solicitor General Elena Kagan would become the fourth woman to sit on the Supreme Court. If not, at least she'll earn a spot on a future version of this list—candidates who were almost appointed to the highest court in the land.

1. Dallin H. Oaks

After suffering a debilitating stroke, William O. Douglas reluctantly retired from the Supreme Court in 1975. Douglas, who was in office for 36 years, was determined to outlast Gerald Ford's presidential term after Ford had unsuccessfully attempted to impeach Douglas while serving as House Minority Leader five years earlier. While Ford selected Seventh Circuit judge John Paul Stevens to replace Douglas, he considered several other candidates, including Brigham Young University president Dallin H. Oaks.

Six years later, while serving as a Utah Supreme Court Justice, Oaks was a candidate for the Supreme Court vacancy that Sandra Day O'Connor eventually filled. In 1984, Oaks retired from the Utah Supreme Court to pursue a higher calling and was ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Today, Oaks is the fifth most senior apostle among the ranks of the LDS church.

2. Robert H. Bork

Ronald Reagan elevated William Rehnquist to Chief Justice following Warren Burger's retirement in 1986 and considered two judges—Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia—to fill the Associate Justice vacancy created by Rehnquist's promotion. While Reagan chose the younger Scalia this time, he would nominate Bork to fill the vacancy left by Lewis Powell, who retired one year later. Democrats had threatened to put up a fight if Reagan nominated a conservative to replace the moderate Powell and Bork, a judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was an easy target. He had close ties to Richard Nixon, having fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox at Nixon's request while serving as United States Solicitor General in 1973. Shortly after Bork was nominated, Sen. Ted Kennedy condemned him during a nationally televised speech. "Bork's rigid ideology will tip the scales of justice against the kind of country America is and ought to be," Kennedy said. While many Democrats would admit that Kennedy's criticism of Bork was over the top, the damage had been done. The Senate rejected Bork's confirmation, 58-42.

After Bork was rejected, Reagan planned to nominate Douglas Ginsburg, but Ginsburg withdrew his name from consideration after it was revealed that he had smoked marijuana with his students while he was a professor at Harvard Law School. Reagan ultimately chose Ninth Circuit judge Anthony Kennedy.

3. Edith H. Jones

After a stroke led William Brennan to announce his retirement in 1990, George H.W. Bush moved quickly to nominate a replacement. John Sununu, the White House chief of staff, helped Bush narrow a list of about a dozen candidates down to two: First Circuit judge David Souter and Fifth Circuit judge Edith H. Jones. Less than a week after the news broke that Brennan was stepping down, Bush nominated Souter. "Reading between the lines, and that's all it is, maybe we're talking about a sequence here," Sununu said of Jones after the decision was announced. "Maybe she is the choice the next time we have a vacancy on the Court. There are no sure things, and times and conditions can change, but the President was impressed." Jones, who was later considered for a Supreme Court vacancy by George W. Bush, is currently the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

4. Emilio M. Garza

Like William O. Douglas, liberal Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court, had no plans of leaving the bench while a conservative was in office. But Marshall was becoming increasingly ill and announced his retirement in 1991, two years before he died of a heart failure, while George H.W. Bush was in the White House. A number of candidates were reportedly considered for the vacancy, including Solicitor General Kenneth Starr, Clarence Thomas, and Garza, who was a recently appointed Fifth Circuit judge. Due to concerns over Garza's inexperience—he had only been on the Fifth Circuit for a few weeks—and a desire to replace Marshall with a black conservative, Bush chose Thomas.

5. Mario Cuomo

Byron White, who was an All-American running back at Colorado before attending Yale and being appointed to the Supreme Court in 1962, retired from office in 1993. Bill Clinton wanted to offer the position to New York Governor Mario Cuomo, the only person he mentioned as a potential replacement during his 1992 campaign. While he initially seemed open to the idea, Cuomo later sent a letter to Clinton indicating that he was not interested in the position. "I do not know whether you might indeed have nominated me, but because there has been public speculation concerning the possibility, I think I owe it to you to make clear now that I do not wish to be considered," Cuomo wrote. After Cuomo declined, Clinton considered several other candidates, including Sen. George J. Mitchell and Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, before ultimately nominating Columbia law professor and judge for the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

6. Richard Arnold

Harry Blackmun announced his retirement in 1994 and Clinton was prepared to offer the nomination to Mitchell, who had turned down the offer the previous year to remain in the Senate. Clinton also considered Eighth Circuit judge Richard S. Arnold, a fellow Arkansas native, but he had reservations about Arnold's health. Arnold had been diagnosed with low-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma nearly 20 years earlier. Clinton eventually chose First Circuit judge Stephen Breyer, who had interviewed with Clinton for the vacancy left by White in 1993, but failed to impress, perhaps as a result of the pain he was in after being hit by a car while biking a few days earlier. Arnold died from an infection related to his treatment in 2004.

7. Edith Brown Clement

When Sandra Day O'Connor announced her plans to retire in 2005, it left George W. Bush with his first opportunity after more than four years in office to nominate a member of the Supreme Court. First Lady Laura Bush suggested that a woman should replace O'Connor and two female judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals—Edith Brown Clement and Edith Jones (see #3)—were reportedly among the leading candidates. Clement soon emerged as the rumored choice, but after ABC News published a story on its website that Clement was not Bush's pick, the attention turned to the candidate who had become known as the "Other Edith." Bush, of course, selected John G. Roberts, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, instead. Clement continues to serve as a Fifth Circuit judge.

8. Harriet Miers

When Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died in September 2005, Roberts's confirmation was still pending. Bush withdrew and then resubmitted Roberts's nomination, this time for Chief Justice, leaving O'Connor's seat vacant once again. Bush nominated a woman, his close friend Harriet Miers, but the choice sparked unprecedented criticism from both parties. Robert Bork called the nomination "a disaster on every level." Miers, the White House Counsel who had previously served as Bush's private attorney, lacked judicial experience and her position on key issues was largely unknown. Facing heated criticism, Bush eventually accepted Miers's request to withdraw her nomination and chose Third Circuit judge Samuel Alito as O'Connor's replacement.

9. Janet Napolitano

The short list of Barack Obama's candidates to replace David Souter when Souter announced his plans to retire at the end of the Supreme Court's term in 2009 included Seventh Circuit judge Pamela Wood, future nominee Kagan, and the eventual nominee, Second Circuit judge Sonia Sotomayor. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was also among the candidates who met with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden before a decision was made. Had Napolitano been nominated and confirmed, she would have served alongside Clarence Thomas. In 1991, Napolitano represented Anita Hill, who had accused Thomas of sexual harassment, during the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on the matter.

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

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9 Fascinating Facts About John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams—sixth President of the United States; son of our second POTUS, John Adams; and all-around interesting guy—was born on July 11, 1767 in a part of Braintree, Massachusetts, that is now known as Quincy. From his penchant for skinny-dipping to his beloved pet alligator, here are some things you might not have known about the skilled statesman.

1. John Quincy Adams was elected president despite losing both the popular and electoral votes.

The election of 1824, which saw John Quincy Adams face off against Andrew Jackson, is the only presidential election that had to be decided by the U.S. House of Representatives, as neither candidate won the majority of electoral votes. Despite losing both the popular and electoral vote, Adams was named president by the House.

2. John Quincy Adams loved morning cardio.

When it comes to personal fitness, early birds have an edge. Studies have shown that morning workouts can curb your appetite, prevent weight gain, and even help you get a good night’s sleep later on. Nobody understood the virtues of morning exercise better than Adams. As America’s foreign minister to Russia, Adams would wake up at five, have a cold bath, and read a few chapters from his German-language Bible. Then came a six-mile walk, followed by breakfast.

3. John Quincy Adams was an avid skinny-dipper.

As president, Adams got his exercise by taking a daily dip in the Potomac … naked. Every morning at 5:00 a.m., he would walk to the river, strip down, and go for a swim. Sadly, the most famous swimming anecdote likely never happened. The story is that when Adams refused an interview with reporter Anne Royall, she hiked down to the river while he was swimming, gathered his clothes, and sat on them until he agreed to talk. But modern historians tend to agree that this story was a later invention . That’s not to say, however, that Adams never talked about Royall. In his diaries he wrote “[Royall] continues to make herself noxious to many persons; treating all with a familiarity which often passes for impudence, insulting those who treat her with incivility, and then lampooning them in her books.”

4. John Quincy Adams enjoyed a good game of pool.

Adams installed a billiards table in the White House shortly after becoming president. The new addition quickly became a subject of controversy when Adams accidentally presented the government with the $61 tab (in reality he had paid for it himself). Nonetheless, political enemies charged that the pool table symbolized Adams’s aristocratic taste and promoted gambling.

5. John Quincy Adams was an amazing orator, but terrible at small talk.

Although Adams was nicknamed “Old Man Eloquent” for his unparalleled public speaking ability, he was terrible at small talk. Aware of his own social awkwardness, Adams once wrote in his diary, “I went out this evening in search of conversation, an art of which I never had an adequate idea. Long as I have lived in the world, I never have thought of conversation as a school in which something was to be learned. I never knew how to make, to control, or to change it.”

6. John Quincy Adams kept a pet alligator in a bathtub at the White House.

Adams had a pet alligator, which was gifted to him by the Marquis de Lafayette. He kept it in a tub in the East Room of the White House for a few months, supposedly claiming that he enjoyed watching “the spectacle of guests fleeing from the room in terror.”

7. When it came to politics, John Quincy Adams played dirty.

The presidential election of 1828—when incumbent John Quincy Adams got crushed by longtime rival Andrew Jackson—is famous for the mudslinging tactics employed by both sides. Adams’s side said Jackson was too dumb to be president, claiming that he spelled Europe “Urope.” They also hurled insults at Jackson’s wife, calling her a “dirty black wench” for getting together with Jackson before divorcing her first husband. Jackson’s side retorted by calling Adams a pimp, claiming that he had once procured an American girl for sexual services for the czar while serving as an ambassador to Russia.

8. John Quincy Adams is responsible for acquiring Florida.

Next time you find yourself soaking up some rays in the Sunshine State, take a moment to thank Adams. As Secretary of State, Adams negotiated the Adams-Onís Treaty, which allowed the U.S. to acquire Florida and set a new boundary between the U.S. and New Spain. That’s right: Walt Disney World might not have been built if it weren’t for the sixth president.

9. John Quincy Adams kind of hated being president.

Adams once reportedly stated, “The four most miserable years of my life were my four years in the presidency.” But even if he hated being commander-in-chief, Adams couldn’t bear to be out of the political loop for too long. After finishing his term as president, Adams served 17 more years in the House of Representatives, where he campaigned against further extension of slavery. In fact, he died shortly after suffering a stroke on the House floor.