Sunday, February 14, 2016


Justice Antonin Scalia was appointed by President Regan and had one of the longest tenures as a SCOTUS Justice. His sudden passing from a heart attack creates a situation where the now 4/4 liberal-conservative split of the Justices could create a situation where no decision could be reached. It that situation the case under consideration will be referred back to a  to the lower court's ruling for re-hearing  and may never reach SCOTUS again.

Unfortunately this being a Presidential election year politics rather than the good of the nation will impact on the selection process for a new Justice. The present political atmosphere in Washington has threatened to delay the appointment of his successor.

Already Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats have demanded the GOP-controlled Senate pledge to confirm a new nominee before Obama leaves office.

On the other hand the Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who said in a statement? "The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President," will likely block any Obama recommendation.

During an interview on CNN's State Of The Union In case no successor is appointee before the Supreme Court goes into recess this summer the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) remarked that President Obama could use a recess appointment to fill the late Justice Scalia's seat.

If Obama appoints the Judge a liberal majority could carry deep implications on a number of issues, from corporate power to abortion policy to affirmative action.

It can only be hoped that Obama will select an individual whose leanings tend to be moderate, not liberal and avoid a nasty political fight which could impact on the election.

What you may or may not know about the Supreme Court.

The Justices are appointed by the President with the approval; and consent of the Senate. It takes only a simple majority. The present procedure starts with hearings and subsequent recommendation by Senate Judiciary Committee, which currently has 20 members — 11 Republicans and 9 Democrats. In 2013 the Democrat controlled Senate passed legislation that a simple majority, not 2/3rds could terminate a filibuster.

The U.S. Constitution established the Supreme Court but left it to Congress to decide how many justices should make up the court. The number has not always been nine; The Judiciary Act of 1789 called for the appointment of six justices, a chief justice and five associate justices and as the nation's boundaries grew, Congress added justices to correspond with the growing number of judicial circuits: seven in 1807, nine in 1837, and ten in 1863. . In 1866, Congress passed the Judicial Circuits Act, which shrank the number of justices back down to seven and prevented President Andrew Johnson from appointing anyone new to the court. Three years later, in 1869, Congress raised the number of justices to nine, where it has stood ever since In 1937, in an effort to create a court more friendly to his New Deal programs, President Franklin Roosevelt attempted without success to convince Congress to pass legislation that would allow a new justice to be added to the court—for a total of up to 15 members—for every justice over 70 who opted not to retire.

There are no official qualifications for becoming a Supreme Court justice he Constitution spells out age, citizenship and residency requirements for becoming president of the United States or a member of Congress but the Constitution does not say that a Justice must be American born, a certain age or hold any particular profession before being selected

Felix Frankfurter, who served on the court from 1939 to 1962, was a native of Vienna, Austria. The youngest associate justice ever appointed was Joseph Story, who was 32 years old when he joined the bench in 1811. Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who served from 1902 to 1932, retired at age 90, making him the oldest person ever to sit on the court. One thing every justice who’s served shares in common is that all were lawyers prior to joining the court. During the 18th and 19th centuries, before attending law school was standard practice, many future justices got their legal training by studying under a mentor. James Byrnes, who served on the court from 1941 to 1942, was the last justice who didn’t attend law school (Byrnes, who also didn’t graduate from high school, worked as a law clerk and later passed the bar exam.)

Justices are appointed for life but can be impeached. Associate Justice William O. Douglas put in 36 years and 7 months on the bench, from April 1939 to November 1975, the longest tenure of any justice in the court’s history. Although they are appointed for life, more than 50 have chosen to retire or resign; that number has including John Jay, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Charles Evan Hughes, Earl Warren, Thurgood Marshall, and, more recently, William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O’Connor. Only one justice ever has been impeached: Samuel Chase, in 1804. The U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Chase, an outspoken figure accused of acting in a partisan way during various court proceedings; however, the U.S. Senate acquitted him in 1805 and he remained on the bench, where he had served since 1796, until his death in 1811

Carter is the only President who served a full term that never had the opportunity to even nominate a Justice to the Supreme Court.

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