Kathleen M. Sullivan, an openly lesbian former Stanford Law School dean, is being mentioned as a possible nominee to replace Justice David H. Souter on the Supreme Court.

Sullivan's name appears on short lists of nominees published by both the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

Justice Souter, 69, announced plans to retire at the end of the term in June on Friday. Reports indicate that he has grown disenchanted with Washington and yearns to return to his life in Concord, New Hampshire. Souter, who was nominated by the first George Bush, is considered a disappointment by conservatives for his liberal record.

Sullivan is one of America's leading scholars on constitutional law. She became the first female dean of any school at Stanford, taking over the Law School, in 1999. In 2004, she stepped down from her post as dean to serve as the inaugural director of the Stanford Center on Constitutional Law.

Sullivan has filed “friend of the court” briefs in several high-profile Supreme Court cases dealing with gay rights, including the 1986 case that upheld the criminalization of being gay (Bowers v. Hardwick) and its antipode, Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down sodomy laws 17 years later.