Posted by Brad @ 8:12 pm on March 30th 2009

No Vacancy

Dahlia Lithwick has a pretty good article up on the secret desire of justices to play their cards close to the chest regarding their retirement plans, waiting until the last minute before giving what always plays out like a surprise announcement (even if it had been coming for years). The net effect might be that it creates a massive amount of boiling, and then bubbling over, drama—presumably exactly what a justice might wish to avoid in keeping their plans secret in the first place. Lithwick:

I can’t help but wonder whether all the mysteriousness and obfuscation, followed by a surprise announcement in late June, doesn’t contribute to the widespread Confirmation Derangement Syndrome that explodes the instant a vacancy is announced. Americans might be less apt to overreact at news of court vacancies if there were warning signals that they were imminent. And perhaps at least some of the growing support for term limits for the justices and proposed mechanisms to remove them if they become infirm have come about because the public feels so completely cut out of this decision-making process and very much at the mercy of the justices’ secret plans.

I think it’s a point worth passing on. Would it really be so bad for justices to, say, give 18 month notice if they can?

Bonus: that article also marks the first time, to my knowledge, that “President Meghan McCain” has appeared in print.


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