Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Here we go again

I first saw it in a post from Turley, though it looks like the Associated Press was first out with the news cum rumor.

Justice Stevens has hired one law clerk for the 2010 term of the Supreme Court (the one that begins in October 2010). That's the news.

Justice Stevens will retire next summer. That's the rumor.

The news fuels the rumor because:
  1. Active Supreme Court Justices have four law clerks each.
  2. Retired Justices are entitled to one law clerk.
  3. Typically, Justices hire their clerks a year in advance, so most (if not all) of the clerks for the 2010 term have now been hired.
  4. Although he's often among the last to hire his clerks, Stevens typically hires all of his at one time.
  5. He'll be frickin' 90 years old, fergodssake.
  6. He'll have been on the Court for 35 years.
  7. He can be assured that if he retires next summer, while Obama's still President and before things start heating up for the 2012 election, Obama will appoint and Congress will confirm a strong liberal to replace him.
Or something. All but the last are simple facts supporting the inference/rumor/speculation that Stevens will retire. The last is no more than a pure presumption. I mean, it is what the press is saying. On the other hand. Obama's first pick for the Court is deeply disappointing to many liberals (and frightening to some of civil libertarians and criminal defense lawyers such as, um, me). Whence the assumption that he'll satisfy us all as he has less political capital to spend, I'm not sure. But then, Stevens, as he'll be the first to say (at least, according to recent interviews) isn't a liberal. He's the same guy he was when Ford appointed him. A moderate conservative. It's just that the court's moved so far to the right, that moderate conservatives are now considered raging liberals.

Anyway, them is the tea leaves.

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