Tuesday, July 03, 2007

We're screwed

So anyone paying attention to the recent spate of US Supreme Court rulings might be a little dismayed over the results. For example, Brown has been largely surplanted, likewise McCain-Fingold eviscerated, taxpayer standing on separation grounds is gone, there was that meanspirited decision on the guy who missed a filing date because a judge gave him the wrong date, etc etc etc. Andrew Cohen has a nice summary.

And now, we're faced with probably 30 or so years of conservative hegemony on the court. There is no mandatory retirement for Justices. And look at the age of the conservatives:




So the three most conservative members (Roberts, Alito, Thomas) have easily 20 years left in them, if not more. Scalia has a good 10 or 15, likewise Kennedy.

Stephens will be the next to go.

Assume Stephens goes next while we have a democratic president. Another liberal gets appointed. But the conservatives are going to be there for a long, long time. And god fobid Stephens croaks before Bush gets turfed out.

Since I became aware of the world, there have been exactly two changes to the Court: Alito and Roberts. The previous change was Breyer and Ginsburg in 93 and 94--almost 15 years ago!

Contrast this with the Supreme Court of Canada. In the last few years, it's totally changed, with Abela, Fish, Charron, Dechamps, LeBel and Rothstein being appointed in the last few years (and remember that Arbour left the Court.) This because the Court has a mandatory retirement of 75, and is also less ideological and thus there's less need to hang on.

But it's a sad state of affairs now with the US court, where all that now matters is getting Kennedy on side. Things aren't decided on merit, they're decided on ideology, and now the composition of the court means more than the merits of the case.

And nothing is going to change, any time in the future.


Anonymous said...

Um who's we? Americans have exactly what they voted for and what they deserve and that has nothing to do with Canada's court system. There is no "WE".

Dean P said...

I'm saying "we" with my american hat on, though I recognize I can be confusing.