Forget Ginsburg, Liberals Now Want Justice Kennedy to Retire While Obama Is Still in Office


Credit: C-SPAN

Over the past few years a succession of liberal pundits have urged Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to hurry up and retire already so that President Barack Obama would get the chance to name her successor. Alas for such liberals, Ginsburg has refused to oblige. In fact, she's basically told her would-be advisers to take a long walk off a short pier.

It now appears the liberals have a new target: Justice Anthony Kennedy. Writing at Real Clear Politics, LiberalOasis.com Executive Editor Bill Scher argues that Kennedy's "best opportunity to extend his legacy beyond his years" is "to let a Democratic president and a Republican Senate name his successor." Here is the core of Scher's case for Kennedy's self-removal:

We can't know what Justice Kennedy, who turns 79 next year, wants in a replacement, let alone if the temperament of his replacement is a consideration in his internal deliberations. But it would be natural for him to want the court to retain the ideological tension he has done so much to foment. He single-handedly kept the court from veering wildly to the right during the Bush presidency and today induces much anxiety in the Obama White House.

It's true that Kennedy often casts the swing vote in tight cases, and that his jurisprudence sometimes annoys conservatives and sometimes annoys liberals (it also sometimes annoys libertarians). But none of that makes it any less silly to think that Kennedy would—or should—want Obama to fill his spot on the bench. After all, Kennedy has repeatedly spoken out in favor of federalism, in support of the Second Amendment, and against the expansion of executive power. The Obama administration, by contrast, typically takes the opposite view of such matters—and frequently loses big before the Supreme Court as a result. What's more, when Obama's signature legislative achievement came before the Court in 2012, Justice Kennedy was the one who read the joint dissent from the bench, arguing that Obamacare should be struck down in its entirety for violating the Constitution. Why in the world would Kennedy ever choose to let this particular president name his successor?