Thursday, September 3, 2009

Another retirement?

Adam Liptak reports in The New York Times that the folks who read the tea leaves around the Supreme Court are speculating that the senior associate justice, John Paul Stevens, might retire next spring.

If so, Washington will go through the Supreme Court confirmation dance for a second summer in a row. As Liptak notes, an Obama appointment would not change the ideological balance on the court, so any nomination is likely to cause only minor tremors, as the Sotomayor nomination did, rather than a major earthquake.

If Associate Justice Antonin Scalia were to leave the court during Obama's presidency, that would bring about a repeat of the type of knock-down-drag-out fight we saw in 1991, when Clarence Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall.

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