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Does The Supreme Court Think That Bush Is A Bad President?

Some of my friends know how I feel about Bush v. Gore. Not the decision necessarily itself (my feeling for that are separate) but in the ruling. In my opinion, 9 Justices ruled on the basis of intuition and how they wanted the election to turn out, NOT based on their respective views of the law. This indictment is not limited to the conservative justices, but to the liberal justices as well. All 9 of them went against their respective theories of the Constitution, and I lost a little bit of respect for the Court that day. The one institution that was supposed to be removed from partisan politics illustrated in that one moment that actually, they aren't, with all the subtlety as if they had spray painted their bodies to support their team at a sports events. In other words, the majority, those proponents of states' rights, completely abandoned that process in going with strong federalism and the minority, strong proponents of federal courts making law, rejected that integrity in favor of having the Florida STATE court decide. Natural inclinations be damned. Fact: Had the liberal Warren Court interpreted the Equal Protection Clause in such a manner, the conservatives would have gone nuts. But I digress, and that is not the point of this post.

After Bush was elected President, many (including me) feared that Bush would be appointed Supreme Court Justices right and left. (And let's be clear on this: there are ALREADY 7 members of the Court appointed by Republicans. The Court does NOT reflect society. 70% of Americans are NOT conservative.) But their ages suggests that they would be retiring soon. If you look at the ages of the current Justices:
Rehnquist is 80 (Pretty freaking conservative)
Stevens is 84
O'Conner is 74 (Conservative but will occasionally have moments of lucidity despite herself)
Scalia is 68 (frighteningly conservative in a Brothers Grimm kind of way)
Kennedy is 68 (Conservative but will occasionally have moments of lucidity despite himself)
Souter is 65
Thomas is (frighteningly conservative in a Brothers Grimm kind of way)
Ginsberg is 71
Bryer is 66

Many of these Justices are extremely ill-health. Now, perhaps it makes sense that someone like Ginsberg to hold on if at all possible on the hope that the Democrats could put together a competent campaign and retake the White House in '04 (idealism is so cute!) but the fact that none of the conservative justices have made noise to retire is telling. I really think that it suggests something that the older, conservative Justices have not retired. (Obviously, not Scalia or Thomas, who are both extremely young.)

If the Supreme Court approved of the job that Bush was doing, and they supported the Judges they have seen him appoint to the federal bench, they would want to retire while a conservative still controlled the White House so that someone of like-minded persuasion would replace them. Yet no one has even whispered of such a move.

Kinda makes you wonder if the Supreme Court would rule the same way again...


  • At 2:35 PM, Blogger Matthew said…

    I've wondered this, too.

    It makes the scenario of Bush winning even more unpalatable. Yes, the justices have had the luxury of not retiring during the current presidential term, but looking at some of their ages (such as 80 & 84), it becomes discouraging. At those ages, I don't see any way that they'd be able to continue on through another Bush term without retiring.


  • At 11:07 PM, Blogger Ontario Emperor said…

    Maybe it's just me, and you probably know the industry better than I, but I suspect that the "lifetime" tenure of certain judges may allow them to be even MORE political. I mean, who's going to stop them?

    If I were a conservative judge plotting my retirement, I don't know if it would make sense to retire in the middle of a conversative president's first term. Even two years away from the election, any appointment of a new Supreme Court justice would get tied up in political hoopla, and it's quite possible that a judicial appointment could be delayed for years. If Bush wins, however, we could see several retirements in 2005.

    P.S. In my personal view, Kerry's summit idea is silly. But maybe I'm wrong...

  • At 11:39 PM, Blogger Me said…

    Federal court nominations could take two years. Supreme Court never could. There are only 9 of them. So that goes through much quicker. In fact, had they retired as recent as a year ago (summer/early fall 2003) it would have been Bush appointment the Justice, NOT the new president. Granted, anytime in 2004 wouldn't have worked for political reasons. But that gives them 2001, 2002 and 2003 - when it makes MOST sense for a conservative justices to retire. Especially when, in 2003, Bush's approval rating was below 50%. There would be no reason to be confident of a Bush victory. It explains why Ginsberg is holding on - not why some of the others are.

    Justices are not allowed to give political speeches, money, etc. It's allegedly a non-partisan system.


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