Justice John Paul Stevens to retire from Supreme Court bench; Get ready for the fire this time
Contemplating the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens, I think Jeffrey Toobin put it best in his New Yorker profile a few weeks ago:
When Stevens leaves, the Supreme Court will be just another place where Democrats and Republicans fight.
If Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation to the bench was a trip across the Atlantic in a canoe, confirming whoever will succeed Justice Stevens is going to be like the voyage across the Drake Passage to Antarctica.
Bear in mind that Justice Sotomayor is a woman with decades of experience as a judge, and has never shown herself to be a radical in any of her rulings. And yet Republicans in the Senate and their conservative allies on the outside hurled every epithet they could imagine at her politics.
That all came prior to the nine months of political poison we endured in the course of the never-ending health care reform debate. And even before that all went down, before the town halls and the bricks through windows, before ‘You lie!’ and ‘It’s a baby killer!’ Senator Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican who is the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Ranking Minority Member, declared in a speech after Sotomayor’s next session that he would fight with even more teeth and nails against whoever President Obama picks next. His speech last August is worth watching again in its entirety:
So, it’s going to be ugly.
For some interesting thoughts about what’s coming next, check out Robert Iafolla on whether or not someone like Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who has never served as a judge, could serve as a judge, and also Kate Klonick’s interview with ex-NY Times Supreme Court correspondent Linda Greenhouse which looks at Kagan.