Supreme Court Vacancy
Today’s thoughts aren’t so much a government outrage as they are just general thoughts on what David Souter retiring from the Supreme Court means in terms of what the SCOTUS will be doing. At the end of the day, the whole situation boils down to a fairly simply answer: it’s not really going to make much of a difference at this point.
Souter was appointed by a Republican and ended up not being as Conservative as hoped. At the time of his stepping down, he is accounted in the Liberal minority of the SCOTUS. Given that he is stepping down during the term of a Democrat President, it means he is likely to be replaced by another Liberal leaning Justice.
All this means is that the balance of power on the Supreme Court will remain as it is with a new face in the Liberal wing of the Court. This means the decisions will still likely lean to the Conservative/Constructionist even though Souter replacement will likely favor the viewpoint of the Constitution as a “living, breathing document.”
It is also interesting to note that the other two Justices most likely to step down during Obama’s time in office (John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg) are also in the Liberal Wing. One of the lasting items in G.W. Bush’s legacy is the face he solidified the Conservative nature of the Supreme Court with the appointments of Robers and Alito.
At the end of the day, I am a firm believer that the Supreme Court of the United States should be of a Constructionist bent. The US Constitution has ways for it to change, and it is not by judicial fiat. Do I agree that some of it is open to interpretation, especially for things that weren’t available during the time of the drafting of the Constitution, but all in all, case law should go by what’s in the Constitution and not stretch it to the breaking point. (For those who might be curious as to what I see as “appropriate” stretching, I believe Freedom of the Press should apply to all editorial and news outlets, not just printed mediums.)
So while President Obama will get to appoint one or more Justices to the Supreme Court, he is not going to change the current lean of the SCOTUS unless there is an unexpected death or other life change in the Conservative Bloc on the Court.