Monday, April 12, 2010
Back in the President's Court
After the announcement late last week of esteemed Justice John Paul Stevens retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court, President Obama finds himself with the task of contemplating his second choice for the high Court.
Justice Stevens turns 90 later this month and has served on the Supreme Court for 35 years. In his retirement message to the President, he respectfully noted: "My dear Mr. President," Stevens wrote. "Having concluded that it would be in the best interests of the court to have my successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the court's next term, I shall retire from regular active service as an associate justice ... effective the next day after the court rises for the summer recess this year."
Stevens has been known as the unexpected radical on the court, swaying opinions toward more liberal rulings. His colleagues have revered him as a leader and mentor, and will find a great void on the bench without him.
So with this new vacancy in the balance, what will President Obama do? Unlike his appointment of Justice Sotamayor, no single "hot possible replacement" appears to be on deck. Will there be pressure to appoint a "Stevens clone"? A minority? Right now, there are about 10 on the list of possibles and the White House seems to be in no rush to make a hasty selection.
Obviously this choice will be pivotal in an election year. Let's watch and see what happens.