January 21, 2010

Jan Crawford bluntly describes Justice Stevens's seeming decline.

Stevens, who is about to turn 90, read a strongly worded dissent in the courtroom today:
[I]t was striking to see him appear to stumble over words as he read it, to mispronounce words like “corruption” and “allegation,” to seem to lose his place in his summary, to often hit the microphone with his hand or his papers.

... [I]t was so different from the John Paul Stevens we’ve come to know.
It's sad when aging shows, just as it's inspiring when an older person is especially vigorous. But no one can go one forever.

I wonder what a Supreme Court confirmation will be like in the new political environment, with the elections approaching in the fall.

33 comments:

Lem said...

I wonder what a Supreme Court confirmation will be like in the new political environment, with the elections approaching in the fall.

The 'new political environment' coupled with an ultra liberal appointment could be enough to generate the perfect storm to shape a borking.

I expect Obama not to play hard ball.

Nichevo said...

Didn't you hear? Obama is doubling down. Per Robert Cook, the only suitable appointee will be Larry Tribe.

TW: lirogram. The amount of weight I give to Obama's judgment.

campy said...

Justice Jeremiah Wright.

Nichevo said...

He could appoint Hillary!, then she couldn't run for Prez in '12.

avwh said...

Hilary Clinton, so she has her lifetime SCOTUS appt and can't run against him in 2012.

Cedarford said...

Well, Stevens & Ginsberg & Souter were determined to outlast Bush II so a new liberal could be appointed in their stead for 25-30 years.
Stevens did get to linger long enough to advance his cause of expanding enemy rights and freedoms. (Rasul, Boumiedienne, etc.)

At least Souter had the decency to leave while he was of sound mind and body - unlike Brennan, Marshall, Douglas, Reinquist. Or Strom Thurmond or Teddy Kennedy.

Imagine other professions other than judges or Senators for Life having guaranteed lifetime tenure!

Nichevo said...

Um, avwh, thanks for translating from English into English for me ;>

Nichevo said...

See, Cedarford, that's one thing voting McCain would have given us. Looks like at least two judges, maybe three.

Alex said...

Rev Wright is the only suitable pick. Please God let Obama do that.

garage mahal said...

I'm just glad Soros is on my side.

Rialby said...

Janet Incompetano.

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campy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...

At 34 years (12,452 days as of today) Stevens is the fourth longest-serving Supreme Court Justice, behind William O. Douglas, the longest-serving Justice at 36.5 years (13,358 days), Stephen Johnson Field at 34.5 years (12,614 days) and John Marshall at 34.4 years (12,570 days). Thomas Johnson is currently the shortest-serving Justice at 163 days. He resigned because his poor health prevented him from the "circuit riding" required of Supreme Court Justices by the Judiciary Act of 1789. "Circuit riding" meant that the Justices had to travel to hear intermediate appeals in circuit courts as well as keep up with their caseloads back in the Capital. This aspect of serving on the court was abolished by the Judiciary Act of 1891. Interestingly, Johnson was the author of the very first written opinion of the Supreme Court, Georgia v. Brailsford, in 1792.

verification word: inert - what Justice Stevens is becoming.

campy said...

OTOH, Rev. Wright is kind of old and not a lawyer.

I give you: Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga, J.D.

edutcher said...

You get the feeling some of these people wanted to wait until the appropriate Lefty environment was in place. Tempus fidgets, as they say.

Nichevo said...

He could appoint Hillary!, then she couldn't run for Prez in '12.

What is known as being kicked upstairs. Problem is, if all the backroom deals come to light, TOTUS may need as many friends as possible on SCOTUS.

holdfast said...

So can there be a long-term vacancy on the court? What if every candidate nominated by Obama is rejected, or does not even make it out of Committee? It could get that hostile after November if Obama does not grow a little humility.

Mark said...

But don't turn your back, Garage.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

The man writes a tightly reasoned 90-page partial dissent including material such as this:

Today’s decision is backwards in many senses. It elevates the majority’s agenda over the litigants’ submissions, facial attacks over as-applied claims, broad constitutional theories over narrow statutory grounds, individual dissenting opinions over precedential holdings, assertion over tradition, absolutism over empiricism, rhetoric over reality. Our colleagues have arrived at the conclusion that Austin must be overruled and that §203 is facially unconstitutional only after mischaracterizing both the reach and rationale of those authorities, and after bypassing or ignoring rules of judicial restraint used to cabin the Court’s lawmaking power. Their conclusion that the societal interest in avoiding corruption and the appearance of corruption does not provide an adequate justification for regulating corporate expenditures on candidate elections relies on an incorrect description of that interest, along with a failure to acknowledge the relevance of established facts and the considered judgments of state and federal legislatures over many decades.

... and people think he's in "decline?"

Though I almost never agree with J. Stevens, I'm quite certain very few people even half his age could ever produce a paragraph like that. Let alone develop the logic preceding it.

May I "decline" so well.

Mark said...

May you decline with good clerks.

Randy said...

As Obama will probably nominate an Asian-American, the first to sit on the Supreme Court if confirmed, the hearings should prove to be as circus-like as most other recent ones. (Harold Koh & Goodwin Liu are two names often mentioned.)

Aside to Bart: Do you think Stevens actually wrote that, or did one of his clerks write substantially all of it and he reviewed and approved it?

Cedarford said...

Bart Hall - Though I almost never agree with J. Stevens, I'm quite certain very few people even half his age could ever produce a paragraph like that. Let alone develop the logic preceding it.

Thurgood Marshall's devoted staff and clerks were writing beautiful opinions for the Esteemed 1st Black Justice when he was so senile and disabled by strokes he was unable to even read aloud what he purportedly wrote.

And Bart would also be impressed by the fact that Strom Thurmond, though he addressed certain Senators by the names of old colleagues that died 15 years earlier...was still able...I guess...to write some masterful comments on the economic nuances of Bush's tax cuts and how they would hail 25 years of rising prosperity and jobs for all Americans.

Beth said...

See, Cedarford, that's one thing voting McCain would have given us. Looks like at least two judges, maybe three.

Ah, thanks for reminding of a good reason I don't regret voting for Obama.

Cedarford said...

"Nichevo said...
See, Cedarford, that's one thing voting McCain would have given us. Looks like at least two judges, maybe three"

The downside was McCain - determined to get us in a 3rd major Neocon-manipulated war - this one with Iran, McCain utterly clueless on the economy, and eager to give the Democrats the fig leaf of bipartisan cover on Wall Street bailouts, health care, McCains&Dem's beloved cap n' trade carbon taxes. McCain-Feingold, and closing GITMO and giving AQ ISlamoids full "Army Field Manual" honor.

No, let the Democrats own it.
Now they are fully accountable for their screwups - without the cover of President POW.
Obama is worse than people thought, but not as bad as McCain as President.
Even with Justices.
McCain was central to Dem's efforts to stop the nomination of many conservatives, and McCain loved to please his "dear Friends" Leahy and Teddy when consulting on who got nominated.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Oh great! The cons compelled a senile man to not only go along with their minority opinion, but to write and read it! Wonderful.

Thanks for letting the cat out of the bag.

Julius Ray Hoffman said...

Judge Stevens is an inspiration! He worked hard, got to the top of his profession, and once he was there he dogged at it for 34 years. To be 90 and still do a job that requires so much of oneself is... well... inspirational!

From Inwood said...

I don't believe that Stevens & Ginsberg were determined to outlast Bush. I think that they are determined to be carried out. Selfish narcissists.

If these two worthies were looking for the greater good, they'd have resigned at the end of last term since the earlier in a President's term, the more powerful he is. Obama could've gotten the head of the ACLU (Romero, b. 1965) or & the 45 year old head of some other far-out Leftist lawyers group appointed to fill those two positions last summer & these nominees would've sailed through as Sotomayor did.

And yes, Rehnquist & a host of previous guys were equally selfish & stayed too long at the fair.

I'm waiting for a transgendered, dark skinned Negro who played Othello in Whiteface in College to be nominated!

In fact, speaking of Teddy, if he wasn't so selfish & narcissistic he could've resigned earlier & his successor would've definitely been a Dem.

And Robert KKK Byrd....

From Inwood said...

Ritmo

but to write and read it! is very heaven or something.

The point of this thread was that he couldn't read it!

Are you having trouble keeping up?

And as others have shown, none of them need to write their opinions, having clerks to do so.

JRH:

a job that requires so much of oneself

You're out of it also.

Kirk Parker said...

Wait!! Bart Hall wasn't being sarcastic? Oh, my...

Flexo said...

President Teleprompter produces some great material as well. Too bad that, when the teleprompter is off, he has a habit of sounding like a fool.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Valid points about the clerks. Are you thereby suggesting that such clerks had no direction as to the lines of argument to be developped?

If they, rather than the justice, decided to dissent, and they, rather than the justice, decided on the lines of argument comprising that dissent ... then we do indeed have a problem.

There is no doubt that J. Stevens is frail. That, however, does not necessarily equate to being feeble-minded, and I'm enjoying the delicious irony of actually defending a liberal against what seem to be somewhat unfair attacks.

From Inwood said...

Bart Hall

When you're wrong on the facts, change the descriptive terms.

The article didn't say "feeble minded".

Read what the comment said.

You happy with that?

mariner said...

I wonder what a Supreme Court confirmation will be like in the new political environment, with the elections approaching in the fall.

I hope to God we don't find out until the new Congress begins, but if Obama and the Dems see the writing on the wall, we may.

I never thought I'd hope for Congressional illiteracy. ;)