Monday, March 30, 2009

Notes on the Court, Part I

Today in Slate Magazine, Dalia Lithwick has an article outlining the ever-popular SCOTUS parlor game "Who's Out First?"   As usual, our most likely candidates are Souter, Stevens, and Ginsberg, roughly in that order.  The article is also noteworthy because it describes - in detail - why high drama is the rule, rather than the exception when there is a vacancy on First Street.  Here are some of the best quotes:

[P]erhaps at least some of the growing support for term limits for the justices and proposed mechanisms to remove them if they become infirm have come about because the public feels so completely cut out of this decision-making process and very much at the mercy of the justices' secret plans.

Sandra Day O'Connor was essentially forced off the court in 2005 . . .  Faced with the choice between retiring that spring and potentially serving two more years, O'Connor felt pressed to step down

It's worth remembering that each of these likely suspects for retirement comes from the court's liberal wing. Which means President Obama will replace any of them with a like-minded liberal centrist, and the net effect on the court as a whole will probably be minimal. That might incline any of them to leave sooner rather than later, but not necessarily this June.

It's a truly enlightening article.  Enjoy!


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