Is it wise for anyone to want a 45 year Supreme Court appointment?

Is it wise for anyone to want a 45 year Supreme Court appointment?

Supreme Court watchers keep elaborate statistics on the Court, but you can question how much it matters. Today, it matters to me. Newly retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy is the longest serving, which is an admirable 30 years and 130 days, unless you disagree with him politically.

Update:  Trump will start interviewing candidates on Monday, July 2, and introduce his nominee on Monday, July 9, one week later.  So a 45 year term of 2,340 weeks is to be decided in ONE week.  Trump is so good at Extreme Vetting.  Mitch promises to seat the new Justice by October, so that he/she can fully participate on next year’s term.  Good excuse not to delay it another month until after the election.

Update:  One coincidence, Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, 45 years ago.  So it has been an established Supreme Court Ruling  precedent for even 15 years or 50% longer than the longest serving Supreme Court Justice, Justice Kennedy. 60% of the US population is under age 45 and has grown up while Roe v. Wade has been the law.  That means about 95 million women.

113 Justices have served, and the average service of Justices not currently on the Court is 16.7 years, plus or minus a standard deviation of 9.9 years. Their median service is 15.7 years. The longest serving is William O. Douglas of 36 and a half years.  The Catholic Church, which has two millenia of experience with Popes, only have an average service time of 7.3 years.

In the middle of the 1800s, after the Constitution was written, the average life span for people at age 45 was 62 years.

Oliver Wendell Holmes was the oldest at retirement, age 90. Very few Justices served over age 80. The average age of retirement in 2014 was 78.7 years.

So if Trump wants a Justice to serve 45 years, and they retire at 80, they have to be educated, experienced, and establish a reliable record at age 35. The average age of law school grads is 26-27. Then they have to clerk for a few years, which means practice researching cases and writing up briefs or opinions.

So, what kind of a person wants to walk into a job interview at age 35 and be told that they have to promise the most unstable President we have ever had that they must serve 45 years to age 80? And, hint, hint, they have to swear fealty to that President, who really won’t live to age 200, perhaps just a few decades more. This, while most of the Judge’s peers will be retiring extremely wealthy in their 50s, with their yachts and Lamborghinis.

Of course, the basic argument has to be that in a lot shorter timescale than 45 years, society changes, the makeup of the country changes, and the technology will have undergone a half dozen “disruptive” technology changes. The greedy foolishness of denying climate change will, in 2063, be starting on its calamitous and impossible-to-reverse climb.

The most senior Justice ever will be out of law school by 53 years. The practice of the movements of “textualism”, “originalism”, or “naturalism” will be so out of date that nobody will even know what you are talking about. You will be a half century behind in current law education.

If Roe v. Wade is killed, the technology will be invented to immediately detect pregnancy, and abort a fetus still undifferentiated in the stem cell phase. Before that, many women may die because of the denial of abortions for reasons of the woman’s health. Many women will be severely injured or die from illegal abortions. Many family plans will be ruined by the half of pregnancies which are unplanned. Many deformed and handicapped children will be forcibly born to suffer, who’s pregnancies could have been stopped when their problems were recognized. Think of their lives now that Trump will remove coverage for pre-existing conditions. The concomitant Republican limitation on birth control and pregnancy health aid for the poor will create many tragedies. Republicans have been inhumanely limiting even food or healthcare to children once they are born, even though they call their policies: Right to Life.

While we treat Justices with respect, imagine how the one Justice who will be charged with overturning Roe v. Wade and other Trump excesses will be treated?

If you want an example of how fast things can now change, just look at how fast Trump’s positions and attitudes change. Look at the dozens of White House employees who have already left in just a year and a half. Look at how he keeps denigrating those who remain. Look at how many crucial appointments he regrets the very next day. A few years ago, Trump was a Democrat! Imagine that. If he is re-elected, he will be free to do what he wants, as long as he gets his daily attention charge. Look at how he complains about his appointment Jeff Sessions every few days, and calls for him to retire.

45 years from now, bioengineered android enhanced people will be the norm. You can take a pill each morning to set what color you will be that day. People will travel freely and settle wherever in the world they want. Hostilities of all sorts will be settled, diseases will be eliminated, poverty will be gone. Education and healthcare will be free, as they almost are already, except in the US. What a difference a half-a-century makes.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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