Friday, May 01, 2009

Exit Justice Souter

Has Justice Souter decided that having the world's greatest job no longer compensates for the fact that it is, in his words, in the world's worst city? If so, then the President will be considering Court nominees sooner in his administration than many expected. Much is made of whether presidential and Congressional candidates have military service, but not so for Court nominees.
Although the Supreme Court has historically had a strong showing of veterans (including some noteworthy combat veterans) in its ranks, only three of the current members, by my calculation, have military experience: J. Stevens was a LCDR in the USNR during WWII (and apparently earned a Bronze Star for code-breaking services), J. Kennedy was a PFC in the California National Guard in 1961, and J. Alito was a Signal Corps officer inactive in the Army Reserve for several years.

Admittedly, there are a host of critical considerations at stake for selecting someone for the Court. But serving in uniform provides a unique perspective on a number of issues that a justice is likely to encounter during his or her service on the Court. And if the speculation proves true that the next nominee will be a woman, the number of veterans on the court is likely to remain at three.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Mike "No Man" Navarre said...

Meg Ryan for SCOTUS!

Christopher Mathews said...

No Man: There's actually a fair amount of speculation that the nominee may be Jennifer Granholm, the incumbent Governor of Michigan, who is also a former state attorney general and AUSA. The governor is a Harvard Law grad and bears a passing resemblance to Meg Ryan (the actress).

M. T. Hall said...

Anon 0918, as a female veteran myself, I cheerfully concur with your statement that being female and having military service are not mutually exclusive. But the ranks of female judges or politicos likely to get a nod generally don't have military service on their resumes. Those females likely to be considered are probably 45 or older, and if they had military service, it was likely for a short period of time when they were in their 20's, when female representation in the military was significantly lower than today's numbers.

Interesting information from Christopher Mathews (but we have come to expect that from him). Gov. Granholm was born in Canada, which opens up a whole other line of Supreme Court trivia.

Bridget said...

Well, Mary is correct, many women in the age group were young at a time when there were few women serving and when marriage, let alone pregnancy was a basis for separation. Only women who served a significant time post-the initial creation of the AVF have much time in service. Until 1976, women were 2-4% of the total force. So, military service of any kind was not common for women.

Of course, there is a CAAF judge early in her tenure who served in the USMC.. but that is very unlikely. I figure she is very much more qualified than say, a White House aide who never sat on the bench.

John O'Connor said...

"Of course, there is a CAAF judge early in her tenure who served in the USMC.. but that is very unlikely. I figure she is very much more qualified than say, a White House aide who never sat on the bench."

My professional regard for Judge Ryan notwithstanding, I figure Luttig and Thomas clerks won't heavily populate the short list.

Christopher Mathews said...

John, I've been having an unseemly amount of fun telling my partners that the President's nominee is "Harriet Miers. Boy, didn't see that one coming."

Anonymous said...

I read that he didn't hire law clerks for next term -- did no one notice that before today? Wouldn't that telegraph that he was heading out?

NBM3 said...

It would be nice to have a nominee with some military experience. However, I think the nominee will either be Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw or Judge Johnnie B. Rawlinson both of whom are from the 9th Circuit. My prediction: Rawlinson.

I've seen Rawlinson in action. She was one of the judges on a panel that considered a FOIA appeal (which I lost). Rawlinson was very impressive during oral argument.

Cossio said...

There is speculation that the President's short list includes that weasel whos name I will not mention. The weasel that argued that JAGs should not be recruited from Harvard because of Don't ask/Don't tell.

Since most the Left hates the military I seriously doubt Obama will choose an individual with any military experiance.

No, I think he'll choose a certain someone who is "Latino" and a "Female" (yes, a certain Puerto Rican) those fufilling two afirmitive action criterea that the Left places over qualified white males.

Anonymous said...

The post above is probably right that the President will pick a minority or female to create diversity on the court. But I think the President should really think outside of the box and get someone who has really different life experience to add diversity. I think he should consider appointing someone who has been on the other side of the law and done time in the joint. A paranoid-bitter excon could really add something to the court like they do to this blog.

Gene Fidell said...

Mary, make it 4. Justice Breyer was in the Army Reserve.

Anonymous said...

as long as the SCOTUS justice has compassion and can empathize with people, I won't care what his/her walk of life is.