Wedged between the Republican and Democratic national conventions next July will fall an event of greater long-term significance for the future of the republic: Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's 80th birthday.
|Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the oldest member |
of the Supreme Court. Getty Images
Barring unforeseen events, Kennedy will become the third sitting octogenarian on the court — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 82, and Justice Antonin Scalia turns 80 in March. That will mark the first time since George H.W. Bush entered the White House more than a quarter century ago that a president has inherited three justices that old. At 78 by then, Justice Stephen Breyer will be close behind.
|Justice Anthony Kennedy is the Supreme Court's |
swing vote. AP
Of all the reasons why the high court will loom large in the presidential election — from a docket brimming with hot-button issues to intensive lobbying campaigns on the right and left — none looms as large as simple arithmetic and actuarial tables. The average age for Supreme Court retirements is just shy of 79. Since 1900, the average age of those who died while still serving was 69.
|Justice Antonin Scalia will turn 80 next year. AP)|
With the court narrowly divided, whoever wins the White House next November might enjoy the best chance to recast the high court in his or her image since Franklin Roosevelt did from 1937-43, when he named eight new justices. A Democrat such as Hillary Clinton might get to replace Kennedy or Scalia, both named to the court by President Ronald Reagan. A Republican such as Jeb Bush might get to replace Ginsburg or Breyer, President Bill Clinton's nominees.
|Justice Stephen Breyer, at 77, is younger than |
three of his colleagues. GETTY IMAGES
In recent years and during the current presidential primary campaigns, Republicans and conservatives act as if they have the most at stake, while Democrats and liberals appear more sanguine — even though the court remains largely conservative. There are several reasons:
• Republican presidents have made 12 of the last 16 high court nominations but have yet to win a reliable majority, a record that motivates conservatives. For more than 50 years, Democratic nominees have behaved on the bench as they were expected to behave, causing less consternation on the left.
• After seven years of the Obama administration — and 15 of 23 years with a Democrat in the White House — Republicans have a laundry list of grievances. They want to block or reverse President Obama's health care, environmental and immigration initiatives. They want the high court to overturn rulings by federal appeals courts now dominated by Democrats' nominees.Read the rest of the story HERE.
If you like what you see, please "Like" us on Facebook either here or here. Please follow us on Twitter here.