A new grassroots group called Equal Rep is lobbying US president Barack Obama to appoint a lesbian to the Supreme Court.

Kathleen M Sullivan, an openly lesbian former Stanford Law School dean, has been tipped as a contender to replace Justice David H Souter when he retires at the end of June.

She has appeared on lists of shortlisted candidates published in both the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

Named by the National Law Journal as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America, she has argued before numerous appeals courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Speaking to Politico.com, Sullivan said: “It’s no secret at all that I’m counted among the LGBT crowd.

“”Given the landscape, I’m flattered, but not fooled, by having my name tossed around.”

Equal Rep’s founder Paul Sousa said in a statement: “Kathleen Sullivan is hands down one of the most qualified candidates.”

He added she “would bring some much needed diversity to the Supreme Court”.

If chosen, Sullivan would become the first ever openly gay Justice and third female Justice in United States history to serve on the Supreme Court.

In January, Equal Rep urged Obama to create a new Cabinet position of Secretary of GLBT Affairs, saying there was a “critical need” for such a post.

The group has also campaigned for other gay and lesbian candidates such as Mary Beth Maxwell and William White to be selected.