Post by Randall Ryder
With Justice Stevens stepping down later this year from the Supreme Court, rumors are buzzing about who will take his place. His vacancy is regarded as extremely important, as Stevens generally casts the deciding on cases before the court. The Court has nine justices, four of which are considered more conservative, and four who are considered more liberal. Stevens was initially one of the more conservative justices, but in recent years has become more aligned with the liberal faction of the Court.
Stevens has expressly said that he wanted to step down during Obama’s presidency to ensure Obama is able to appoint his successor. Traditionally, appointees are generally of the same political alignment of the president who appoints them. That said, many justices considered "liberal" or "conservative" at the time of their appointment developed a personality on the Court that was unexpected. Justice Stevens, for example, was appointed by a Republican president, yet Stevens is considered part of the liberal wing of the court.
While many might expect Obama, who is a democrat, to appoint a liberal justice, that might not be the case. Obama is generally considered a conservative democrat. For the most part, Obama’s views do not align with the more extreme "left-wing liberals."
One critic is calling for Obama to appoint a justice who did not attend either Yale or Harvard (unlike the remaining eight justices). Specifically, the critic argues that having a court fully comprised of Ivy league graduates prevents the court from being in touch with real people and the majority of the American public. The critique notes that the current court is generally considered pro-corporation and pro-prosecution.
Two of the front runners to replace Stevens are Elena Kagan and Merrick B. Garland. Kagan has served as the Dean of Harvard Law and Garland attended Harvard. While there is no guarantee an outsider, being someone who did attend Harvard or Yale, can truly shake up the court, it is certainly worth a shot. In fact, one of the names on the short list is a federal judge from Montana who attended the University of Montana for law school.
What do you think? Does the Supreme Court need more diverse legal minds?
Supreme Club | The New York Times