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Intro: "Barack Obama, already the first president to appoint two female justices, may have a chance to name a third during his second term in office and deepen his imprint on the U.S. Supreme Court."

The oldest of the court's nine members, 79-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has indicated she might retire in the next few years. (photo: Gary Fabiano/Pool via Bloomberg)
The oldest of the court's nine members, 79-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has indicated she might retire in the next few years. (photo: Gary Fabiano/Pool via Bloomberg)


Obama Victory Creates Chance to Mold Supreme Court

By Greg Stohr, Bloomberg News

12 November 12

 

arack Obama, already the first president to appoint two female justices, may have a chance to name a third during his second term in office and deepen his imprint on the U.S. Supreme Court.

With four justices 74 or older, actuarial tables alone suggest Obama will have another vacancy or two to fill before he leaves the White House in January, 2017. The oldest of the court's nine members, 79-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has indicated she might retire in the next few years.

Names of possible successors are already circulating in Democratic circles. California Attorney General Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Virginia Seitz and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan are high on the lists. Obama would almost certainly choose a woman to succeed Ginsburg, ensuring the court continues to have three female justices, said Amy Howe, a lawyer at Goldstein & Russell PC.

"If Ginsburg retired, I think it'd be hard to replace her with a white guy," said Howe, whose Washington firm runs Scotusblog, a website that tracks the court and is sponsored by Bloomberg Law. "I can't imagine he'd want to let the court go back down to two women."

A new justice would join a court now split almost evenly on questions of abortion, race, religion, gun rights and campaign finance. Obama's first two appointees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, have joined Ginsburg in voting to uphold the president's health-care law and calling for reconsideration of the 2010 ruling allowing unlimited corporate election spending.

Shaping Law

Another Obama appointment would solidify that wing of the court, even if the balance doesn't tip. Because a new justice would potentially serve for decades, Obama's appointees would be in position to shape American law long after the onetime constitutional law professor has left the White House. Harris is 48, Klobuchar 52, Seitz 56, and Madigan 46.

"You could see effectively a Ginsburg clone at least 30 years younger to really anchor the liberal wing of the court," said Carrie Severino, chief counsel for the Judicial Crisis Network, a Washington-based group that opposed the Sotomayor and Kagan nominations.

The impact would be even greater should a Republican- appointed justice, such as Antonin Scalia or Anthony Kennedy, both 76, leave the court. That's unlikely barring a major health problem, Howe said.

Another candidate to step down before the end of Obama's new term is 74-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer, who, like Ginsburg, was appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton. Neither Breyer, Scalia nor Kennedy has given any public indication of plans to retire.

Appellate Judges

The candidates to replace them also include a handful of federal appeals court judges, among them Obama appointees Mary Murguia and Jacqueline Nguyen and Clinton appointees Sidney Thomas and Merrick Garland. Thomas and Garland were on Obama's short list when he selected Kagan in 2010, with Garland getting support from Republican senators.

The possibilities would expand if no vacancy occurred for two or three years. By then, Obama may have appointed a dozen or more additional federal appellate judges, giving them stronger credentials to be elevated to the nation's highest court.

That field includes two people he has nominated to the federal appeals court in Washington, Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan and former New York Solicitor General Caitlin Halligan.

The Supreme Court at one point loomed as a significant campaign issue. That possibility diminished after the court upheld the president's health-care law in June, with Republican- appointed Chief Justice John Roberts casting the pivotal vote.

Obama made the court a secondary issue in his re-election bid, using it primarily to help make his case to women. In a speech in August, he told a mostly female audience that Republican Mitt Romney "could tip the balance of the court in a way that turns back the clock for women and families."


 

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+33 # reiverpacific 2012-11-12 09:41
We could all help push the re-organization of SCOTUS along by calling en-masse for the impeachment of Mr Mafia Scalia and his shameful lap-dog "Uncle" Thomas for contempt of public interest and laughing in the face of the populace in passing Citizen's United -and being members of Opus Dei.
They need to be dragged into the 21st Century too.
 
 
+3 # Mareko 2012-11-13 21:23
"Avoid remarks that are ethnically derogatory." Calling Justice Thomas "Uncle" Thomas, regardless of what you think him, sounds quite derogatory to me.
 
 
+1 # bingers 2012-11-16 16:50
I agree, it does sound derogatory, but it's an accurate description of him.
 
 
+12 # Robert B 2012-11-12 11:07
Four years from now, Scalia will be 80 years old, and Ginsburg will be 83. Those are the two most obvious ones to be retiring or pushing up the daisies. I sure wouldn't miss Clarence Thomas, but he's still pretty young. If the Republicans could pull it off, they'd put a 10-year-old right-wing nut on the Court.
 
 
+17 # ghostperson 2012-11-12 11:38
An American Indian should be appointed. Here's why: Since 1981, the SCOTUS has been using Indian law as the crucible for promoting it's states' rights, pro-business anti-minority according to Prof. David Getches, now deceased. It does so even though it has no interest in Indians per se. Civil rights attorney, Martin Garbus, calls its actions in Indian cases abusive and a stunning revision of basic principles of Ango-Saxon jurisprudence. There are many, higly-skilled specialists in Indian law who live and breathe Supreme Court case law because whenever a tribe prevails at the circuit court of appeals against the U.S. for breach of trust, there is a 100% grant rate for government petitions for certiorari (discretionary review). William Rehnquist had a pathelogical hatred of Indians as was called by a famous professor of Indian law, the most Indianophobic justice on the court in any century. Who better to be on the court that someone who has lived, breathed and fought inequity for 3 or 4 decades. The National Congress of American Indians could offer names of Indians with credentials more than sufficient to serve on the court. The Indian law bar has stellar credentials. They are not Clarence Thomases.
 
 
+3 # reiverpacific 2012-11-13 08:48
Quoting ghostperson:
An American Indian should be appointed. Here's why: Since 1981, the SCOTUS has been using Indian law as the crucible for promoting it's states' rights, pro-business anti-minority according to Prof. David Getches, now deceased. It does so even though it has no interest in Indians per se. Civil rights attorney, Martin Garbus, calls its actions in Indian cases abusive and a stunning revision of basic principles of Ango-Saxon jurisprudence. There are many, higly-skilled specialists in Indian law who live and breathe Supreme Court case law because whenever a tribe prevails at the circuit court of appeals against the U.S. for breach of trust, there is a 100% grant rate for government petitions for certiorari (discretionary review). William Rehnquist had a pathelogical hatred of Indians as was called by a famous professor of Indian law, the most Indianophobic justice on the court in any century. Who better to be on the court that someone who has lived, breathed and fought inequity for 3 or 4 decades. The National Congress of American Indians could offer names of Indians with credentials more than sufficient to serve on the court. The Indian law bar has stellar credentials. They are not Clarence Thomases.

Right! The Constitution is based in a large part on the "Great Iroquois Confederacy" of Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. European settlers were filled with admiration of its wisdom and strength.
 
 
+13 # Scott Galindez 2012-11-12 12:05
Scalia will die holding that gavel...I really only see Ginsberg retiring, which meas Obama will not have a major effect on this court, the next President will be replacing the conservatives who will hold on for dear life the next for years...
 
 
+3 # reiverpacific 2012-11-13 15:47
Quoting Scott Galindez:
Scalia will die holding that gavel...I really only see Ginsberg retiring, which meas Obama will not have a major effect on this court, the next President will be replacing the conservatives who will hold on for dear life the next for years...

I'm afraid you are probably right but one must hope.
Now if he'd just let that gavel slip a bit and bang it down on his lapdog's head----!
 
 
-10 # abaconw48026 2012-11-12 12:38
The supreme court is supposed to be independent of other branches of government and that is impossible if the court depends upon nomination and such from those other branches. New supreme court members should be chosen by the people themselves by popular vote
 
 
+1 # bingers 2012-11-16 16:52
Quoting abaconw48026:
The supreme court is supposed to be independent of other branches of government and that is impossible if the court depends upon nomination and such from those other branches. New supreme court members should be chosen by the people themselves by popular vote



Right, since so many of the electorate are familiar with possible choices or are able to evaluate them. Check!
 
 
+5 # Okieangels 2012-11-12 17:05
As long as she feels up to the job, I hope Justice Ginsberg stays on the bench. I'll certainly miss her when she retires.
 
 
+5 # Corvette-Bob 2012-11-12 20:09
The reelection of Pres Obama was important for two reasons. One is the appointment(s) for the Supreme Court and the other is to permit Obamacare time to become embedded into the health care system to ensure that it will survive in perpetuity.
 
 
-5 # Innocent Victim 2012-11-12 20:35
Would anyone expect Obama to apppoint judges or justices who would slam him for his usurpation of power, his shattering of the Bill of Rights? Would any new judge appointed by Obama charge the Lord High Executioner with the murders of US citizens in Yemen? I don't think so!
 
 
0 # Innocent Victim 2012-11-14 08:25
I would read with great interest the opinions of the negatives to my message. Do you like allowing the President to decide on the life or death of citizens without any due process of law? Do you like his unending wars, his uncontrolled use of drones that kill indiscriminatel y in countries with which we are not at war?
 
 
-2 # dbriz 2012-11-14 18:26
Quoting Innocent Victim:
I would read with great interest the opinions of the negatives to my message. Do you like allowing the President to decide on the life or death of citizens without any due process of law? Do you like his unending wars, his uncontrolled use of drones that kill indiscriminately in countries with which we are not at war?


Now, now IV, you have to understand the LOTE thing.

Obama may claim the right to assassinate us by committee, eliminate habeas corpus, indefinite detention without charges and other civil abuses but...jeez, how else could we get Obamacare?

Give the guy a break, he won't kill anyone who doesn't deserve it, hell with the Constitution, just trust him.
 
 
+2 # reiverpacific 2012-11-14 19:06
Quoting Innocent Victim:
I would read with great interest the opinions of the negatives to my message. Do you like allowing the President to decide on the life or death of citizens without any due process of law? Do you like his unending wars, his uncontrolled use of drones that kill indiscriminately in countries with which we are not at war?

OK, here's an "Opinion" -and I haven't even got to the red button yet, as I don't entirely disagree with you.
D'you think that Twit would have, for one second, stopped drones and targeted killings?
The "Unending Wars" is an expression coined by that super-thug Dickless Cheney and Ob' is trying to slow them down to a stopping point.
Had Twit been "selected" you'd have been almost certainly facing a new war with Iran and the consequences.
I don't like the drone thing either but I'm not a citizen and so have no say in how my taxes are spent. Why don't you growlin' complainers get out there and "Make" him stop this travesty? He invited you after all to do this.
 
 
0 # Innocent Victim 2012-11-16 17:44
Mitt, the "Twit" as you call him, would as President be faced with an opposition party, just as was GWB. That is why GWB was unable to fulfill Dick Cheney's fondest dreams as has Obama.

The Democrats will act as an opposition party, no because they are any fonder of the Bill of Rights than Obama, but because they are fond of opposing a Republican president.

For the same reasons, our SS, Medicare, and Medicaid would have been safer with the Democrats as an opposition party in the Congress than as an adjunct to a Democratic president.
 
 
+1 # bingers 2012-11-16 16:53
Quoting Innocent Victim:
Would anyone expect Obama to apppoint judges or justices who would slam him for his usurpation of power, his shattering of the Bill of Rights? Would any new judge appointed by Obama charge the Lord High Executioner with the murders of US citizens in Yemen? I don't think so!


Sounds more like Bush, eh?
 
 
0 # dkonstruction 2012-11-15 07:41
Since we still live in Gore Vidal's United States of Amnesia it's important for "us" to remember that real, progressive reform in this country (no matter which branch of gov't it comes from) only came about because there were powerful mass movements and not because we had the "right people" in office. For example, the Supreme Court that gave us the landmark civil rights decisions was considered a conservative court. FDR was elected on a platform of maintaining the status quo and balancing the budget not as a "new deal" reformer.

I'm not saying we don't need to replace the far right judges currently on the court but we can't keep making the same mistakes over and over again (or, doing the same thing over and over and expecting differenct outcomes). If we want progressive decisions out of the Supreme Court (or congress or the president for that matter) we need to build a political movement in this country with the power to make these folks do it (which they will only do when they are scared of "us" enough so that it looks to them to be a poltical/econom ic imperative).
 
 
0 # Innocent Victim 2012-11-16 17:47
Yes, there is much to what you write, but the problem of building such a political movement is we do not have control of the media; worse, they are our enemies.

Otherwise, your program is a good one!

In other words, no light is at the end of the tunnel. In fact, we do not know if the tunnel has an end.
 
 
0 # abaconw48026 2012-11-16 19:04
Who was it that said he saw the light at the end of the tunnel and it was a train!! Innocent Victim is right, that we do not have control of the media but that means we must make changes such as limiting the amount that can be spent of media propaganda during an election and use the internet to find those sources we can depend upon to give a neutral and objective point of view, and find those websites which are informative but not political.
For example, the site CAGW.org points out abuses of power by both parties and there are a few other sites as well that are objective.
I found at one time several years ago that when it came to news from other countries I read news from those countries at newsboy.com but you do have to make sure that you are getting news and not propaganda.
We need to do a web search when it comes to any government appointee to see things such as their past opinions and positions and make the supreme court non-political whether that is by popular vote or a vote of our elected officials so that it is not a rubber stamp of the party in power, with a term limit as well.
 

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