Good Idea? Or Not
I've always enjoyed the opinion columns of Erwin Chemerinski, a professor at UC-Irvine School of Law, because in addition to providing an understandable presentation of the legal principles at the heart of the issue he's discussing, he also presents a healthy dose of pragmatism to the mix. His latest column, however, has me scratching my head.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should retire from the Supreme Court after the completion of the current term in June. She turned 81 on Saturday and by all accounts she is healthy and physically and mentally able to continue. But only by resigning this summer can she ensure that a Democratic president will be able to choose a successor who shares her views and values. ...
...simply leaving before the next election isn't enough. If Ginsburg waits until 2016 to announce her retirement, there is a real chance that Republicans would delay the confirmation process to block an outgoing president from being able to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. In fact, the process for confirming nominees for judicial vacancies usually largely shuts down the summer before a presidential election. ...
...Some might question whether a justice should be so calculating in choosing when to retire. But not doing so ignores the reality that ideology matters enormously in Supreme Court decision-making. This is nothing new. [Emphasis added]
Some indeed "might question whether a justice should be so calculating," me included, and for several reasons.
Yes, yes. I get that the Democrats might/probably will lose their Senate majority in 2014 and might even lose the White House in 2016. But, first of all, that assumes that this president has the cojones to nominate someone who shares Justice Ginsburg's views and values. He hasn't exactly consulted the liberal "binder" all that often in his other nominations to the federal courts or other positions.
Secondly, as Prof. Chemerinsky himself has pointed out, she is healthy and fully capable of continuing. Just because she's 81 does not mean she is going to immediately lose her capacities or her desire to continuing service. There is no indication whatsoever (that I'm aware of) that retirement is necessary this year or even two years from now.
Finally, isn't it a shame that such machinations are even a part of our conversation, that the people we send to Washington are so ideologically bent that our even our Supreme Court is affected.
Labels: Supreme Court