Justice John Paul Stevens has made it official. He’ll be retiring at the end of the current court session in June.
Stevens is the leader of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court, so Obama’s pick to succeed him probably won’t be appreciably worse than Stevens. However, this is yet more evidence that elections have consequences because this will solidify the liberal bloc of the Court for years to come. It’s a good bet that Ruth Bader Ginsburg will also retire sometime before 2012 since she’s getting up in years and suffers from poor health. Hopefully by then there will be a Republican majority in the Senate that can curb Obama’s worst impulses.
But right now that majority does not exist and there is nothing the Republicans can do short of a filibuster to prevent Obama from appointing one of his radical fringe fellow travelers to the highest court in the land.
Sonia Sotomayor was a lousy pick. She was qualified, but the assets that got her the job were her ethnicity and her willingness to legislate the liberal agenda from behind black robes. With the Democratic majority in jeopardy after November, this may be Obama’s last chance to appoint a hardcore radical. It’s a chance he won’t give up. Look to the most radical president this nation has ever had for the most radical nominee ever made to the Supreme Court.