#1 What would Obama’s Supreme Court look like?10-10-2012, 11:59 AM
What would Obama’s Supreme Court look like?
By Liz Goodwin, Yahoo! News| The Ticket
President Barack Obama has already appointed two new justices to the Court and, if he's reelected, he'll most likely get at least one more crack at it. There are currently four justices in their seventies on the aging Supreme Court, and three of them are within four years of 79, the average age at which justices have retired since 1970.
As we wrote last week, Romney would be in a better position to drastically reshape the court if he is elected, because the oldest justice right now is the liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 79. Romney would choose a conservative-leaning justice to replace her, shifting the makeup of the court so that conservatives have six votes and liberals just three. Ginsburg has hinted she will step down when she's 82, which would be during the next presidential term.
If Ginsburg retires, Obama will almost certainly replace her with another liberal justice and the court will remain split between four reliably liberal justices and four even more reliably conservative justices, with Justice Anthony Kennedy swinging between them, but more often siding with conservatives. Obama's earlier two Supreme Court appointments kept the status quo: He replaced two retiring liberal justices with people of a similar ideological bent, leaving the balance of the court unchanged.
But two of Ginsburg's conservative colleagues are not far behind her in age, which means it's possible that Obama would be in a position to replace Antonin Scalia or Anthony Kennedy, both 76. (Stephen Breyer, a liberal on the court, is 74.)
If Obama is able to replace Kennedy, a moderate conservative, or the very conservative Scalia, the court's ideological make up would change dramatically.
A left-leaning court could alter laws on same-sex marriage, gun rights, affirmative action, campaign finance, property and a whole host of other legal issues we might not even know about yet.
And such a move would have major consequences. Geoffrey Stone, the former dean of the University of Chicago Law School, found that if a liberal judge had replaced one of the four most conservative judges starting in 2002, the liberal wing of the court would have won 17 out of the 18 most important Supreme Court cases over the past ten years, including Citizens United, which struck down campaign finance reform laws. Meanwhile, if a conservative judge had replaced one of the liberals, the conservative wing would have won 16 out of the 18 cases, including the health care reform case.
The 21st century. The age of Smart phones and Stupid people.
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