Gail Shister
TVNewser Columnist

Toobin.jpgIt doesn’t happen every year and there are no (visible) shoulder pads, but covering the search for a new Supreme Court justice is “the Nerd Super Bowl” for CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin.

Explain yourself, counselor.

“The [judges'] written opinions can seem esoteric. It’s fairly abstract stuff,” says Toobin, a Harvard Law grad and author of ’07 bestseller The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court.

“It’s not like a political campaign, where candidates are giving speeches — red meat — to the public,” he continues. “Most people don’t read actual opinions or see the Supreme Court in action.”

Toobin, King of the Nerds, does both. The challenge, he says, is to decode the legalese into language that “brings the issues before the court alive in a meaningful way for people who are not lawyers.”

Translation: Convey the enormity of the stakes without putting viewers into REM sleep.

Gender will be a big factor in President Obama’s choice of nominee for David Souter‘s seat, Toobin says. He puts the odds at 80-20.

It puzzles Toobin that there have been only two female Supremes in the history of the high court — Sandra Day O’Connor, who retired in 2006; and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, 76 and battling pancreatic cancer.

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