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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Know your Supreme Court Justices

NPR's Ken Rudin, in his column this week, responds to a question about when Chief Justice William Rehnquist will leave the Court:

Media conjecture aside, there was no guarantee that Rehnquist -- if he were to call it quits -- would do so on the last day of the court's term. Or on the day after. Certainly, everyone was bracing for an announcement, and certainly the e-mail blasters and bloggers on the left and the right were ready to strike. I still expect Rehnquist, who is suffering from thyroid cancer, to retire in the very near future.

Who will the president pick? How will he even know who to pick? During the last debates, this is what the president said about his court appointments:

What he's asking me is, will I have a litmus test for my judges? And the answer is, no, I will not have a litmus test. I will pick judges who will interpret the Constitution, but I'll have no litmus test.

And, that is pretty much it.

It's not hard to visualize an image of the president yipping and wiggling in excitement, ready to piddle the woven rug in the oval office, in anticipation of making a mark on the American judicial system. Making a mark, as in gnawing through the carved leg of your grandma's 200 year old rock solid, Queen Anne style settee.

Once again, here's who's there and how they got on:

  • William H. Rehnquist, born 1924; appointed by Richard M. Nixon in 1971.
  • John Paul Stevens, born 1920; appointed by Gerald R. Ford in 1975.
  • Sandra Day O'Connor, born 1930; appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981.
  • Antonin Scalia, born 1936; appointed by Reagan in 1986.
  • Anthony Kennedy, born 1936; appointed by Reagan in 1988.
  • David Souter, born 1939, appointed by George Herbert Walker Bush in 1990.
  • Clarence Thomas, born 1948; appointed by George Herbert Walker Bush in 1991.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsberg, born 1933; appointed by William Jefferson Clinton in 1993.
  • Steven Breyer, born 1938, appointed by Clinton in 1994.

So, if this happens in the next three years, which it probably will, Rehnquist, a Republican nominee, will be replaced by yet another Republican appointee. Like their respective nominating presidents, this next nominee won't be as liberal as the last. What I mean is, you thought Rehnquist was conservative? Wait 'til you see the one that takes his place.

Posted by Marie at June 30, 2005 4:49 PM