Whose Supreme Court

It’s been a never-ending campaign, this presidential election of 2012, which began almost as soon as Barack Obama was elected in 2008. The campaign of 2016 is just a month away.

The lengthy campaigns have done nothing for quality. There’s still hope for the presidential debates, which begin this week. But the list of issues absent from the campaign is a who’s who of importance.

The Washington Post brings up one: The Supreme Court.


The Supreme Court is almost always the dog that doesn’t bark in presidential campaigns, no matter how much scholars and activists on both the left and right lecture about its importance.

They are right, of course, that a Supreme Court justice with life tenure is one of the most lasting legacies a president can leave. Consider that Ronald Reagan’s last election was in 1984 but one of his choices, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, is the pivotal justice on today’s court.

On a divided court, Kennedy is the justice most likely to decide questions of gay rights, affirmative action, who is eligible for the death penalty and even how the presidential campaign itself is financed.

Kennedy is also one of four justices on the court who are still going strong when most mortals would be planning afternoons of bridge or fishing. Kennedy and fellow Reagan nominee Antonin Scalia are both 76. Among the justices on the left, Justice Stephen G. Breyer is 74 and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 79.

That’s some serious old.

Today, the Court took a pass on some fairly important issues for the coming term

  • Disco

    I can’t understand why Ginsburg and Breyer are still there. I expected them both to quit during Obama’s first term. Assuming they want to be replaced with like-minded justices, can they both hold out until 2017 should Romney be elected?

    I’m just completely baffled by their inertia.

  • Bismuth

    //Assuming they want to be replaced with like-minded justices…

    This is viewing the court through the lens of partisan politics — which may not be totally irrelevant, but is probably not the leading factor on a Justice’s mind. Especially since it’s been their job to critically and objectively analyze, a skill that seems to be at odds with toeing party lines.

  • vjacobsen

    Say it with me: Term limits for Supreme Court justices. I’m talking something sane, like 25 years.

  • BJ

    I like that the justices are for life, or till they want to leave. I also think that the reason that Ginsburg and Breyer have not left is because of the political nature of getting appointed. Remember after 2008 we had the rise of the Tea Party, and now a very even Senate. I think if they want ‘like minded’ they will need to wait a little longer.