justice and justices

What the Republicans did in not confirming Merrick Garland was egregious.  By comparison, rushing to confirm Amy Barrett Browning seems fair and reasonable.  The real sin was failing to confirm Merrick, not rushing to confirm Amy.  But – here we are.  The Democrats seem powerless to stop Browning’s confirmation.  I’m pretty opposed to screwing up our Democratic institutions, and packing the court definitely falls under that umbrella.  I’m so opposed, I’d be hesitant to even vote for Biden if he fails to state that he won’t pack the court.

And yet . . . adding two justices to the court would null out Trump’s pick that replaced Garland and add the Garland equivalent that should have been added to the bench.  Which seems fair.

Again, RBG could have averted all this.  So I kind of blame her.  But mostly I blame the Republicans for failing to confirm Merrick Garland.

4 thoughts on “justice and justices

  1. Daniel Uhlig

    So if she is confirmed, should the Democrats just accept the situation and wait for the next retirement or death? It seems that McConnell has been packing the courts (At all levels) now by first slowing and not confirming Obama’s nominations (messing up our democratic institutions) and then rushing through Trump’s nominees.

  2. Jennifer

    I don’t know Daniel. I do think the Republican behavior is unacceptable, which is why I’m coming around to something I previously would have considered unthinkable – adding an extra two seats on the SC. I don’t understand the rules well enough to propose a solution, but clearly a solution is needed. What’s happening currently is ridiculous.

    McConnell is another oldster that needs to go. I feel like if we banned everyone over 60 from congress and over 70 from the courts, that would help.

  3. Daniel Uhlig

    Yeah. Not sure what else to do in the short term. Impeaching Brent K. Might be a good option.

    I agree on the age thing. The next generation needs more opportunities. This will also bring fresh ideas and expectations into the government. But instead we have two old white guys. I think giving justices a twenty year term may be a good idea. Maybe paired with each presidential term coming with two to three nominations.

  4. Becca

    Coming in late to this conversation. Federal Judges are entitled to retirement at 65. They have three choices: (1) retire; (2) take “senior status;”* (3) do nothing. If they retire or take senior status, their “seat” becomes open, and a new person can be nominated to their empty seat. Some will wait until a President of their party is in office before they retire/take senior status even if they are eligible earlier (barring health or family issues) so the judge of their party can pick their replacement (this is a prisoners’ dilemma problem, if all the judges stopped doing this it would all come out in the wash). I guess my point is that it would be an extraordinarily rare federal judge who hasn’t at least taken senior status by 70, opening up their seat for a younger person.

    That said, you know my position on young people and judging . I think the optimal age to start a career as a federal judge is closer to 50+, I think it is hard for young people (even me in my 30s working for a judge) to have the kind of perspective and maturity and detachment to make those decisions, let alone the legal expertise. I wouldn’t worry about young people’s opportunities to be federal judges these days, I have an acquaintance who I think is 33 who will likely get confirmed in this group of judges that will be put up for a vote at the same time as ABJ, and another passing acquaintance that was nominated to an appellate court two years ago now at 36; this administration has lowered the average age dramatically.

    *Senior status means they continue to still be hear cases but with some changes – for instance they can opt for a reduced work load (eg 50% cases; they also get a 50% cut in their staff; or avoiding cases of a certain type like no criminal etc; appellate judges are relieved of certain emergency duties and don’t sit on full en banc courts). There are many courts are totally overwhelmed and senior status judges are the only thing that keep the dockets moving (though in some cases the burden came from all the judicial vacancies that were left open during the Obama administration). Since judge’s retire at basically full pay, senior status is really working for free yet many judges do it because being a federal judge is a pretty good gig.

    I do worry about the consequences of term limits for federal judges (if you could even do it, which would likely require amending the constitution) In my observation, judges know this is the last job they will ever have and that makes them less partisan and less swayed by popular opinion and more focused on just doing the right thing — but there are two sides to this coin, where now we might see that in a 6-3 Supreme Court where the justices are not in touch with public sentiment.

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