Friday, April 9, 2010

Stevens' Retirement Doesn't Change Much

Here are some thoughts on the implications of Justice John Paul Stevens' impending retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court after nearly 35 years of service.

1. President Obama is going to nominate a liberal to the bench.

2. Conservatives are not going to be pleased with President Obama's nominee (with perhaps the possible exception of current Solicitor General Elena Kagan).

3. Regardless of who Obama appoints it will not change the current ideological balance on the Court.

4. Which brings me to this final point. While I don't think Stevens retirement changes much there is one development that is worth noting. With the departure of Stevens, Anton Scalia will become the longest serving justice on the Supreme Court having been appointed by President Reagan in 1986.

Scalia turned 74 last month (Stevens turns 90 on April 20th). What are the odds that Scalia serves on the bench until he's 90? Would he last through (heaven forbid) a second Obama term? If Scalia retires or passes on while Obama is in the Oval Office then that would be a watershed event in American jurisprudence. It would mean a liberal majority on the Supreme Court.

Come to think of it, Anthony Kennedy (the other Reagan appointee) is only three months younger than Scalia. At 55, Chief Justice Roberts is the youngest member of the Court. However, let us also not forget his history of seizures the most recent of which came in the summer of 2007. Clarence Thomas is in his early 60s while Samuel Alito turned 60 earlier this month. So, in the name of justice, let us pray for their continued good health.

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