Civil Discourse Now

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Four more years and prospects of change on the Court.

   Four years ago, many of us celebrated the victory of Barack Obama in the election for the office of President of the United States. The "change" that was promised was stymied soon after the inauguration, in part by maneuvers in the United States Senate. Still, something similar to national healthcare was enacted. 

   Today we can look forward to four years without Mitt Romney in the Oval Office. We also perhaps will see as many as (or more than) four justices of the United States Supreme Court replaced. Justices Anthony Kennedy (75), Ruth Bader Ginsberg (79), Antonin Scalia (76), and Stephen Breyer (74) are the oldest members of the Court.

   There is no mandatory age of retirement for a justice of the United States Supreme Court. Retirement is voluntary. The average age of retirement has increased in the past few decades to 78.7.

   Justice Scalia has been stridently (generally) to the "right" on the Court. Justice Kennedy has been seen as a "swing" vote. Both were Reagan nominees. Justices Bader Ginsburg and Breyer were Clinton nominees. Of the nine justices, five (Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts) were nominated by Republican Presidents. Four (Bader Ginsburg, Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan) were nominated by Democratic Presidents.

   President Obama’s second term could have a far-reaching impact on the United States in many respects, but if he is able to nominate three or more—young—justices to the Supreme Court, the impact of his presidency will be felt for decades.      

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