Justice Souter Retiring

NPR is reporting that Justice Souter is going to retire at the end of the court’s current term. This is not a surprise – speculation has been going around for months. Listening to Nina Totenberg during my commute home, one thing continually stood out: her statement that Souter is a liberal “on this court.” While he certainly hasn’t been the conservative that the first President Bush was expecting, Souter isn’t really more than a center-left moderate. On this court, though, dominated by arch-conservatives, he is the very picture of a liberal.

So, while the many news analysts discuss how his replacement won’t shift the balance on the court (and it won’t), what it can do is change the nature of the balance. Concurrences and dissents are important, as are all of the secret compromises necessary to get a majority. President Obama can appoint a center-left moderate, or a true progressive, and this will matter by shaping the make-up of the court’s liberal bloc. He also has the opportunity to appoint a woman, which is necessary based on, if nothing else, the oral arguments last week in Safford Unified v. Redding. The point is, the appointment will matter. With that in mind, take a look at the argument for appointing a true progressive at Overruled.

Where President Clinton seriously dropped the ball, however, is corporate accountability.

[Snip.]

All of this is to say that issues like Roe and Gitmo are very important, but issues of corporate accountability are equally important.  I want the government to stay the hell away from my bedroom, but I also want to be able to rely on my insurance company if I get sick, and I want to be able to hold it accountable if it illegally denies me coverage of a medically-necessary treatment.

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Published in: on April 30, 2009 at 10:39 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. So who are your top picks?

    • I don’t have any particular names. I’d like to see someone with considerable trial experience – it is a perspective that is lacking on the court. I’d also be very open to drawing someone not from the federal bench. Finally, I think it is essential that this appointment be a woman and/or a minority.

      Now, that isn’t meant to suggest that there is or ought to be a quota. However, gender, race, and class are important considerations in determining who is the ‘most qualified’ candidate. The different perspectives gained through life are, quite frankly, more important than jurisprudential chops once some minimum level competency is reached.

      And, as an aside, this attack on ’empathy’ as a consideration is ridiculous. Since when do we want anyone in any position of power to lack empathy?


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