Justice Stevens Is Stepping Down


This isn't exactly the biggest surprise of the year, but 89-year-old Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens officially announced his retirment today. Will President Barack Obama nominate a "Scalia of the left" to replace him, or play it safe by picking Solicitor General Elena Kagan or some other nominee able to attract Republican support? We'll find out soon.


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  1. Ugh. I’m getting out my “motion discomfort” bag now.

  2. Obama will go hard left while he still has the chance. November 2 is neutering day, and he knows it. The moderate choices will come after.

    1. Prepare for the most liberal motherfucker in the court’s history. Probably a law prof in her early 30’s who has a junior faculty position (which Obama couldn’t seem to work his way up to) at an Ivy league school with a bumper sticker saying “No justice, no peace.” Non-white female preferred since the only defense will be to call the opposition racist/sexist. Liberals will point to her support for flag-burning bans and warrantless police raids as reasons why non-liberals should support her.

      Just what my crystal ball says.

  3. I guess Arlen Specter isn’t getting his wish. How sad!

    Liberals know they will never have a better margin in the Senate than they do now so I wouldn’t be surprised if they force out the other left wing Justices over the summer.

    1. So, how do they “force out” justices? Article III judgeships are lifetime appointments. The judge can choose to resign or retire, but the only way to force them out is for congress to impeach them.

      1. That’s about as likely as Democrats amending the constitution to actually give the government the authority to enact the crackpot schemes they’re so fond of.

  4. Welcome to the Courtpacking Express. Fasten yer seatbelts.

    1. Courtpacking? I am not optimistic about who Obama is likely to pick, but it is really just nominating justices, same shit as always. Unless he has a plan to add 6 more seats to the court that I haven’t heard about.

    2. I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

      1. I think he meant “fudge packing.”

  5. Is it possible to be more to the left than Stevens?

    1. Yes, and worse, it’s possible to do it for another 30-40 years.

    2. Stevens was appointed by a Republican and considers himself a conservative.

      It’s the court and national political discourse which has moved radically to the right. Stevens hasn’t gone anywhere.

      1. ‘onsiders himself a conservative.’

        And he can call spirits from the vasty deep, too.

      2. It’s the court and national political discourse which has moved radically to the right. Stevens hasn’t gone anywhere.

        Riiiiiiiight. This old canard. Just ignore our current political climate and repeat that to yourself, again… and again… and again.

      3. Stevens was appointed by a Republican and considers himself a conservative.

        And Bill Maher considers himself a libertarian.

    3. Don’t ask that question. It can ALWAYS be worse.

  6. Let’s hope that this takes up *all* of the Senate’s time from here until November, which would essentially stop any more nonsense (bills) coming out of the Legislative Branch. A gridlock, of sorts.

  7. Anyone (who pays more attention to SCOTUS than me) have a take on how ideology has actually played out in nominees? I mean, I suppose Thomas is every bit the righty most thought he’d be, but how has that played out with other nominees? Don’t most of them become somewhat more moderate than initially portrayed?

    1. Justice Lewis Powell was a Nixon appointee, but surprised everyone by becoming the court’s moderate voice for many years.

      The advantage of lifetime appointments is that once they’re in they can vote their conscience. The downside is that your stuck with them until they die or retire.

    2. The truism is that as often as not, Republican picks move left (Souter, Stevens, Warren).

  8. Good riddance to Gerald Ford’s biggest mistake.

    1. That’s arguable. Pardoning Nixon was a pretty big one too.

      1. Feh. Pardoning Nixon was a public relations faux pas, but the country didn’t suffer for forty years over it.

        1. Just four, actually.

  9. Hey you conservatives/neo-cons/libertarians…don’t u worry your little hearts.

    In an effort to make friends with people that don’t like him at all (somthing that us liberals did NOT vote him in to do), he’ll pick another Anthony Kennedy…I promise.

    Being a liberal, I hate this guy. I’m voting republican just to destroy the democrats…which are nothing more than closet-case republicans.

    1. WTF? Someone care to translate for me (and my little heart)?

      1. Ignore that post. I’m pretty sure it was generated by a markov chain

        1. Sure seems like it.

        2. My head just exploded a little.

  10. Every time I hear “Scalia of the left” I picture an actual Bizarro Scalia, all grey-faced and referring to himself in the third person.

    “Bizarro not care about textualism in statutory interpretation!”

    1. lol

    2. Remember, in Bizarro Land everyone has a pointy goatee

      1. No, that’s in the Star Trek Mirror Universe. Get your totally made up bullshit straight, OK?

    3. That’s OK, they’ll come up with a “Bizarro Constitution” soon, too.

    4. +Win and Awesome!

  11. Good riddance. How can a person on the Left support the government seizing land by force from the poor and giving it to large corporations? He may be a statist, but he’s no progressive in my book.

    1. He also went the wrong way in Kennedy v. Louisiana.

    2. And you think for a minute he’s going to be replaced by someone who will repudiate that view?

      1. Merely observing (and bemoaning) the fact.

  12. My prediction: Obama will go hard left. He is still riding high on the house “reconciliation ramrod” of HCR. He will want a relatively young leftie in SCOTUS to ensure many years of “living document” interpretation of the constitution.

    1. Gotta agree with this. Look, he went to the mat for HCR, unexpectedly and seemingly without the ability to win. Why wouldn’t he do that here?

  13. Well, Phyllis Schlafly appears to be certain that the eventual nominee won’t have any military experience.


    2. Any particular reason she should have military experience?

      1. As she puts it, “Cases concerning the military appear every year before the Supreme Court, and our nation will not be well-served by a court lacking in military experience.” And, of course, there’s no way that any judge could ever make the correct decision in a military-related case unless he or she has had personal experience in the military. 😉

        (As I mentioned in a newer comment, perhaps I should have included the emoticon when I originally mentioned this.)

      2. I believe there are a couple of current justices that already have some military experience, anyway.

  14. Left, right, or centrist, it doesn’t matter because they’re all illiterate bastards that find no limits on the power held in their own hands.

    1. That’s overgeneralizing bullshit. Clearly none are illiterate. And if you actually had read some decisions, you would find that there are those on the court who do, in fact, recognize limits on the power of the SCOTUS.

      That said, there’s no doubt that too many judges these days – including Sotomayor, Stevens and Souter – who appear to lack the understanding of what it means to be a “jurist”, as opposed to a public policy maker.

  15. How will pompous gas bag Senator John McCain position himself?

    1. I bet he’ll be pretty much anti-Obama from here on out since Obama pissed in his metamucil.

  16. And what would a “Scalia of the Left” look like anyway? With a couple of deplorable and destructive (Raich) decisions, Scalia has pretty much kept to the text of the Constitution. A left-wing Scalia would just do whatever (s)he wanted, pretty much what most justices do now anyway.

    1. I seem to recall a few decisions where Scalia has been pretty awful on 4 th amendment stuff too.

  17. This won’t really hit the fan until this summer, but it will let us know (if we don’t already) whether the Dems are going to go into damage control mode, or whether they are going to go into go-for-broke mode, until the next Congress is seated.

    1. After HCR, uh, I’d say go-for-broke.

      1. It’s going to be a long hot summer of Tea Party riots…

        AND beach parties

    2. How many politicians of any stripe have suffered at the polls for a judge nomination vote?

  18. Is there some diversity category Obama will consider appeasing? Asians, gays, some other group?

    1. Perhaps an illegal alien who left his judgeship in Mexico for a better life weeding Nancy Pelosi’s lawn?

    2. So are there any prominent asian lesbians out of the closet and sitting on a federal bench somewhere?

      1. That would be pretty much opposite of Scalia now wouldn’t it 😉

    3. Doesn’t matter which category he picks from – you will be a Racist if you oppose them (and sometimes when you support them ffs)

  19. FDR’s object, in attempting to add Justices to the Court, was to “pack” it with people sympathetic to his plans. It wasn’t that the Court needed more Justices, it needed more Justices who agreed with FDR.

    Stevens apparently said specifically he wants Obama to pick his replacement. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, whatever her feelings about Obama’s mad Justice-picking skillz, is likely to croak before the next election.

    Add those picks to the “wise Latina’ and we’ll be stuck with Obama’s handiwork for decades.

    1. we’ll be stuck with Obama’s handiwork for decades.

      Too late.

  20. And what would a “Scalia of the Left” look like anyway?

    Like if Stevens were able to plausibly justify his rulings.

    Not possible.

  21. But would an Obama-chosen replacement for Stevens really change the makeup of the court all that much? Stevens is pretty left, so replacing him with another pretty left justice pretty mcuh would leave us with the status quo, wouldn’t it? Not that I’m thrilled with that, but it beats replacing Scalia or Thomas with a Stevens equivalent.

    1. I think you are right, replacing Stevens with a different liberal-minded judicial activist won’t change the court makeup.

      My preference would be to nominate and seat a textualist. Just do what the constitution specifies. If the country is unhappy with the existing constitution, then the country can amend it. All of this “living document” stuff leaves us bumpkins wondering just what is legal today.

      1. I think everyone here would share the preference.

        But what does that have to do with what BHO is going to actually do, which is pick someone who does believe in all the stuff that you decry? He doesn’t give a shit about the Constitution and he doesn’t want his selected jurists to, either.

        1. He used to teach the Constitution, Texas. Constitutional scholars tend to have a healthy respect for that document, and that respect is reinforced by an intimate knowledge of its contents and workings.

          1. Ha. Good one. Next you’re going to tell me that he’s a centrist because that’s the way he campaigned.

            (had to switch my meter on when I read your response the first time… that’s a sign of good craftsmanship, I always say)

    2. You can always go deeper…

  22. Considering he’s gonna have a Republican (or Republicanish) Senate soon, I think he’ll go long and pick a real radical. He won’t have the opportunity again.

    1. Yes because of that provision in the constitution that says the minority party must advise, consent, obstruct, and act like crybabies if you don’t give in to all their demands.

      1. Yeah… if only government would just unite already.

        1. Whatever, Paul. Minorities can just shut up. The majority gets to fuck them where and when and however it likes. If they don’t like it, they can leave the country. USA! USA! CPUSA!

      2. Just remember your answer, Tony, when the pendulum comes shooting back the other way (as it most definitely will) and we have a Republican majority in Congress and a Republican president who gets to nominate judges.

        1. I don’t have to remember anything. I’ll just deny deny deny until I die die die.

        2. Thing is, nothing is actually going to change until one side or the other, or Kennedy, has an unexpected death. Just like the left was praying for Stevens’s or Ginsberg’s health as long as Bush was in office, the right is now praying for the same for their own, admittedly less old and feable, justices while Obama is in office. Stevens has probably wanted to retire for many years now and has been a good soldier to wait all this time until he was sure he would be (literally) replaced.

          As soon as a President has the opportunity to replace a court member from the other side, then the stalemate gets broken in one way or another and we either slip into the abyss or start dismantling the Leviathan.

          Of course, if it wasn’t for Stevens or Souter screwing over their respective patrons, this would have already been settled.

  23. Obama should appoint the most qualified person: Judge Napolitano.

    He’s qualified because he actually understands and respects the Constitution, and the idea of Natural Law and Natural Right.

    Something tells me that Hopey McChange won’t be going that far out on a limb just to show he respects the Constitution.

  24. The press is predicting Elena Kagan or Diane Wood.

    1. Between these two choices (Kagan and Wood), I favor Wood because she did not graduate from an Ivy league school. We have enough Ivy Leaguers on the court already.

      My personal pick would be anybody who graduated from the Ridgecrest School of Law as they would certainly be qualified and would well represent “the common man”.

  25. According to NRO, “The question for conservatives will be not whether but how to oppose Obama’s nominee.”

  26. some other nominee able to attract Republican support?

    Are you fucking kidding me?

    He could renominate Robert Bork and the Republicans would try to block it.

    He could force-breed Scalia and a female clone of Alito, send the result to Liberty U., Clockwork-Orange it for 20 years with images of abortions while rap plays in the background, send it back in time to the confirmations and the Republicans would still filibuster.

    1. Amusing imagery, but complete bullshit.

      Obama will nominate a liberal terd, and liberal terds like you will criticize republicans for opposing her.

      1. I was making no predictions about the relative t{u|e}rdosity of the eventual nominee.

        I was making a prediction about the Republican response to anyone nominated — namely, that they’re obviously playing block-voting rigidity games because they think it is in thier favor to do so.

        This was obvious during the healthcare clownshow. Unless you wish to make the argument that Snowe was standing on her carefully considered and sincerely held principles…?

        On the one hand, Republicans up for reelection have to count on keep-yer-government-hands-off-my-medicare types for turnout. Those folks don’t actually care who Obama nominates, they want to see people standing up to the Kenyan Islamunist. (hell, ask a random teablanker to name a difference of opinion, any difference, between Stevens and Alito, and you’d hit a goldmine of informed citizenry if they guessed that one’s not Catholic. I’ve talked to some of them in both Ohio and Tennessee, and I don’t think I’m hitting nonrepresentative pockets of inexplicably low-information but high-enthusiasm voters.)

        On the other, you have a parlimentary bloc in a system not made for it that’s going to punish members who defect on a visible issue, even if they defect for something they’d otherwise support. And ever since the Borktastrophy dented the FedSoc plan, SCOTUS nominees are a flashpoint that gets lots of press.

        Thus, my prediction. Sorry the humor didn’t coat it sufficiently for you.

        And I may well be a ‘terd’, but I’m hardly a liberal. And I’ll likely be critical of the eventual nominee – not a huge fan of the Obamatron. But whatever.

  27. It would seem that from both an educational and a professional perspective, few presidents have been as qulaified to make SCOTUS nominations than this president.

    1. OK, maybe my meter is broken.

    2. You bet.

      Maybe he could nominate one of those ACORN dolts, then SCOTUS could interpret the commerce clause to mean that Salvadoran children should be allowed to be prostitutes in the US.

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