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Supreme Court

NATIONAL Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Justice Stephen G. Breyer Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Justice Sonia Sotomayor AGE: 77 AGE: 71 AGE: 60 AGE: 61 APPOINTED: 1993, by President Bill Clinton APPOINTED: 1994, by President Bill Clinton APPOINTED: 2006, by President George W. Bush APPOINTED: 2009, by President Barack Obama Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Justice John Paul Stevens Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Justice Antonin Scalia Justice Clarence Thomas AGE: 73 AGE: 90 AGE: 55 AGE: 74 AGE: 61 APPOINTED: 1988, by President Ronald Reagan APPOINTED: 1975, by President Gerald R. Ford APPOINTED: 2005, by President George W. Bush APPOINTED: 1986, by President Ronald Reagan APPOINTED: 1991, by President George H.W. Bush SUPREME DECISION The retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens gives President Obama his second opportunity to shape the supreme Court BY PATRICIA SMITH W hen Supreme Court to replace him," says Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University. ordeal. Nominees are carefully screened by the White House, and then grilled on live TV by Senators about their views, private lives, and anything they've written. The intense scrutiny means that it's much less likely that an appointee will turn out be a surprise. But it's not impossible. "You never know how one person can (President Dwight D. Eisenhower learned that the hard way with his appointment of Earl Warren, the Republican Governor of exist almost regardless of who's nominated," says Rosen. Aside from the politics of an election year, the stakes are so high because Supreme issues on campaign-finance regulation, and Second Amendment issues on gun control. Justice John Paul Stevens announced in April that Aside from Stevens, four other Justices Both issues are likely to return to the Court he would retire at the end are over 70 (see graphic), so it's possible that this won't be Obama's last chance to make a Supreme Court appointment. Stevens was appointed in 1975 by President Gerald R. Ford, a Republican, who said all he wanted was "the finest legal mind I could find." In that sense, Stevens is a vestige California, as Chief Justice in 1953. Warren in the next few years. of the Court's term, he set was much more liberal than Eisenhower Other big issues that are likely to come Court Justices serve for life. the stage for a confirmation fight over his replacement that could consume Washington this summer, just as the nation gears up for expected, leading the Republican President to later call his appointment of Warren "the worst damn fool mistake I ever made.") "Presidents recognize that Justices of the Supreme Court serve long beyond their own terms, so it's one of the ways they can have before the Court include the extent of the President's power in fighting terrorism, the rights of detainees, the constitutionality of the health-care overhaul that the President just signed into law, and of same-sex maiage, midterm elections in November. end up moving a Court," says Lee Epstein, a Northwestern University law professor. "The Justices change, the times change, the cases change." When Stevens joined the Court, he was considered a moderate. He has said repeatedly that his beliefs haven't changed, but that the Court has shifted, becoming more conserva- tive in recent decades. But others say Stevens has also changed-underscoring the point that an impact 20 years after they leave office," says Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago. But as Neil Richards of Washington University in St. Louis points out, "The downside of appointing someone young is that you don't quite know what you're going to get, since people tend to change their views as they age.". At 90, Stevens is the oldest and the lon- Gun Control & Free Speech Stevens's departure means the Court could be without a Protestant, the nation's majority gest-serving member of the current Court. of a time when ability and independence, rather than perceived ideology, were viewed as the crucial qualifications for a seat on the high court. Nineteen days after he was nomi- nated, and after only five minutes of debate, affirmative action, and a host of Internet- He is also considered the leader of the related privacy and free-speech issues. Stevens says he hopes his successor is Court's liberal bloc. His retirement gives religion-something that would have been unimaginable a generation ago. (Aside from President Obama the chance to make his confirmed "well in advance of the com- second appointment to the Court; his first was Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who joined the Court last summer. Stevens, there are six Catholics and two mencement of the Court's next term," the Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed Jews on the Court.) Stevens-a World War which starts, as always, the first Monday Stevens, a Republican, by a vote of 98-0. Don't expect anything so civilized this time around. In recent decades, the confir- II veteran-is also the last remaining Justice to have served in the military. The Supreme Court heard major cases this term dealing with First Amendment in October. "The ideological leaning of the Court won't change dramatically; he was a liberal and President Obama will appoint a liberal That may happen, but getting there could a President can never know for sure what kind involve months of intense debate. "Both With reporting by Adam Liptak and Peter Baker mation process has become a months-long of Justice his choice will turn out to be. sides are so set up to have a battle that it will of The New York Times. 14 The NewYork Times uPFRONT UPFRONTMAGAZINE.COM FEBRUARY 8, 2010 15 PHOTOS BY KEITH BEDFORD FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX

Supreme Court

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I designed simple info graphs for the teens news magazine The New York Times Upfront.


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