Thursday, January 27, 2022

On Stephen Breyer's Retirement

Lots of hysteria over this, thought it's technically unimportant, as there'll still be a 6-3 conservative majority on the court (5-4 if you place the chief justice on the leftist side, which is the likely scenario, "to preserve the legitimacy and integrity of the court"). 

But politics is everything and some left-wing geniuses think quick confirming Breyer's replacement --- an affirmative action pick in a qualified black woman, which would be racist if a Republican presidents he's ONLY appoint a qualified white woman --- is the thing to get juice Democratic turnout this fall, an Biden accomplishment that is real and tangible. 

News Flash: Unless you're an insane partisan activist, No one cares about the Supreme Court until there's a case that directly, and I mean personally, harms their interests. Just ask anyone, any average person, a classmate, neighbor, or the checkout woman at Ralph's, to name the chief justice, or the only black member of the court, or the first Latina. Bupkes. Nada. Zilch. People don't know these things because they've got more important things to do in life, like making the rent and feeding their children.

But the elite media class is making this out to be a matter of grave existential import. I'm just bored by it, personally. 

In any case, see David Leonhardt, at the New York Times, "After Breyer: The latest on the coming Supreme Court nomination":

Stephen Breyer has just done something that liberal Supreme Court justices in the modern era don’t always do: He has timed his retirement so that an ideologically similar justice is likely to replace him.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not do so, choosing to stay on the court even when her health was fragile, Barack Obama was president and Democrats controlled the Senate. William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall did not do so either, retiring during George H.W. Bush’s presidency instead of trying to wait for the 1992 election. And Earl Warren, the liberal chief justice of the 1950s and ’60s, announced his retirement so late in Lyndon Johnson’s presidency that Richard Nixon was able to fill the slot after Johnson fumbled the nomination process.

These forfeited liberal court seats are a central reason that conservatives now dominate the court. Democrats and Republicans have held the White House for a similar number of years in recent decades, yet Republican appointees hold six of the Supreme Court’s nine seats.

Circumstance has definitely played a role, too — and the sample size of Supreme Court justices is so small that it’s hard to be confident about retirement patterns. (Another factor: Republicans’ refusal to let Obama replace Antonin Scalia in 2016.) Yet a few liberal justices really do seem to have had a more blasé attitude toward retirement than their conservative colleagues.

Conservative judges seem to view themselves as members of a legal movement, especially since the rise of the Federalist Society in the 1980s. Not since John F. Kennedy’s presidency has a justice from the right half of the ideological spectrum been replaced by one from the left half.

Liberal justices, on the other hand, have sometimes placed more emphasis on their personal preferences — whether they enjoy being on the court or would rather retire — than the larger consequences for the country.

In 2013 and 2014, Ginsburg — who, like many justices, loved the job — rejected pleas to step down, despite being in her 80s and having cancer. After her death in 2020, Donald Trump replaced her with Amy Coney Barrett, who may provide the deciding vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, affirmative action and more...

More at Memeorandum.