Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the supreme court and term limits

Something I've been thinking about recently, is why there has never been any traction to revisit the notion of lifetime appointments for Supreme Court Judges.

This is really not any issue often discussed, but it is a tremendous problem, and has been throughout American history.

A long lived Supreme Court justice, is almost ALWAYS out of step with the rest of American Society. There have been some exceptions (Earl Warren - ironically appointed by a Conservative Republican administration being the most notably example), but take a gander at some of these I-just-wasn't-made-for-these-times judges.

John Marshall

appointed 1801 by John Adams.

The Federalist party was the first "party" in American History, Washington, Hamilton, Adams were Federalists. 1800 was the first truly brutal presidential election in the US, Adams vs Jefferson, Jefferson won (he would have lost if it were not for the extra votes apportioned to the south by the infamous 3/5ths clause - more on this later). The Federalists were basically done as a real party by the end of TJ's second term. Madison and Monroe ran basically unopposed.

But there was always John Marshall, he was on the bench until 1835...THIRTY FIVE years after the last member of his party was elected to national office outside of New England.

The specifics of his cases are not the exciting, but he made a career out of ruining the days of Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson - none of whom were members of his party.

By the time of his death, there was not a single congressman identifying as a Federalist.

Roger Taney (avenue)

my street is named after this scumbag.

nominated by Jackson in 1835 (the year of Marshall's death), He was on the court until his death, during the Civil War (1864). He was the deciding vote on the Fugitive Slave Law - wherein (to paraphrase Jon Stewart), Dred Scott fought in court for years to gain his freedom, finally, his hard work was rewarded when it was decided that he was A - still a slave, and B - not a person, but a piece of property to be bought and sold.

Melville Fuller

appointed by Grover Cleveland. 30 years later, he declared INCOME TAXES UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

William Rehnquist

appointed by Reagan. opposed gay marriage, wanted to overturn Roe V Wade, and so on.

These are not random examples. They are the four longest tenured Chief Justices, in descending order of length (and convenient chronological order).

They were all older than Chief Justice John Roberts was when he was appointed.

He fucking crazy are that guy's anti-gay wingnut positions going to seem in 2030?


Adam said...

Wait, you're not saying that our Constitution should be changed are you?

It's a sacred (dare I say, Holy?) document that should be followed to the letter, no matter what happens in the real world.

P.S. States Rights!

ben said...

state's rights...hey! Wyoming! Shut the fuck up! More people live in San Jose California than in you! You loudmouth!