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SHOULD Rehnquist Retire?
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Cody Dawg
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Jul 15, 2005, 10:08 AM
 
Should he retire...or stay on?

Some might say that Rehnquist staying on is a good thing and his health issues are irrelevant when it comes to his duties and responsibilities.

Then there are those that say that if his health is affected then his mental faculties might not be sharp and he might be making poor decisions.

Case in point: Allowing governments to seize private homes and turn them over to individuals in order to develop the property for commercial purposes.

What are your thoughts?

I think he should get out of there. I think his announcement that he is staying at the age of 80 and suffering from thyroid cancer is an example of poor judgement.
     
vmarks
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Jul 15, 2005, 10:29 AM
 
And then again, perhaps it provides him with a purpose and motivation to beat cancer and remain strong. Plenty of other judges have stayed well beyond their peak, into senility and madness even.

Rehnquist wasn't alone in his decision on Kelo v New London, and unless you're ready to say that all people who disagree with you on important decisions need to retire, it strikes me as petty to attack him.
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dreilly1
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Jul 15, 2005, 10:55 AM
 
I'm sure that when he is no longer up to the task the other eight judges will encourage him to retire. In the meantime, his job is probably helping him find the will to keep going. Good for him!

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Cody Dawg  (op)
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Jul 15, 2005, 11:11 AM
 
I'm not attacking him vmarks.

However, I'm QUESTIONING whether or not he is able to make sound decisions? I don't know the man.

I think this thread addresses the question of whether or not there should be a mandatory retirement age.

New York has a mandatory retirement of 70

Obviously someone is thinking along the same lines as I am questioning or else there wouldn't be mandatory retirement ages.

And your comment:
Plenty of other judges have stayed well beyond their peak, into senility and madness even.
Is a scary one - you seem to allude to the fact that an insane and "mad" judge is acceptable when you say that mentioning or questioning his ABILITIES is "petty."

     
dreilly1
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Jul 15, 2005, 11:53 AM
 
Many institutions support mandatory retirement ages in order to make sure there is a steady stream of new positions opening up for younger people, not because they think that there is a "senility bit" that gets flipped atfter a certain age is reached.

Any person that has a sound sense of judgement (and one would hope that the Chief Justice fits into this category) can probably decide for himself when to leave.

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NYCFarmboy
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Jul 15, 2005, 12:17 PM
 
He should retire in my opinion.

It is why Sanda O'Conner is such a class act, she knew when to retire and still have other opportunities in life.



...... and I would support a manditory retirement age and indeed a limit on how long someone can serve on the courts..... there should be terms on the Supreme Court .


vox populi est vox deity.


I'm not one for old men/women ruling forever with basically all that remains is only their hands outside the grave.
( Last edited by NYCFarmboy; Jul 15, 2005 at 04:49 PM. )
     
zizban
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Jul 15, 2005, 06:10 PM
 
I saw video of him leaving the hospital and he looked very frail but if he feels can still god bless him. I agreee on age limits and term limits.
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Jul 16, 2005, 07:57 AM
 
USSC justices are appointed for life (barring impeachment) and many of them have died in office. I have to wonder the political calculus Rehnquist used, however. Many of us assumed he would be comfortable with retirement so long as President Bush won reelection.

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Maflynn
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Jul 16, 2005, 08:39 AM
 
It seems sad when you see a superstar in sports hang on well beyond the time they should have retired now I think this is the case. While I don't classify supreme court justices as superstars its evident that renquest enjoys the power and limelight too much for him to step aside.

In a sense he (and the other justices) are the leaders of the country. They can strike any law down as unconsitutional. I'm not a big fan of activist courts/judges. They imo overstep the seperation of powers our forefathers setup, but that's a topic for another time.

Sad thing is he will be retiring sooner or later and with O'Conner retiring Bush will have some say in the makeup of the court. Actually I don't know what's sadder that or the the posturing by the democrats and republicans. The current state of affars in washington seems depressing to say the least.

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goMac
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Jul 16, 2005, 09:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cody Dawg
Should he retire...or stay on?

Some might say that Rehnquist staying on is a good thing and his health issues are irrelevant when it comes to his duties and responsibilities.

Then there are those that say that if his health is affected then his mental faculties might not be sharp and he might be making poor decisions.

Case in point: Allowing governments to seize private homes and turn them over to individuals in order to develop the property for commercial purposes.

What are your thoughts?

I think he should get out of there. I think his announcement that he is staying at the age of 80 and suffering from thyroid cancer is an example of poor judgement.
My reply is really simple:
It's a lifetime appointment. Get over it.
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nonhuman
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Jul 16, 2005, 10:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by goMac
My reply is really simple:
It's a lifetime appointment. Get over it.
As well it should be. Term limits would only serve to further politicize the judicial process. We want justices that can be objective and follow their own judgement; a lifetime appointment means that the justices don't have to feel beholden to the president/party that appointed them, they're free to follow their own judgement and not have to fear retribution for going against the party in power. For it to be otherwise would cripple the judiciary and destroy what remains of the system of checks and balances.
     
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Jul 16, 2005, 10:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by NYCFarmboy
He should retire in my opinion.

It is why Sanda O'Conner is such a class act, she knew when to retire and still have other opportunities in life.
But this is Renquist's life, and he's afforded his position for as long as he wants.

I don't give a crap what he decides. He's giving it his all, and that's fine with me. Who the heck am I to say he should retire? I've never even met the man.
     
Cody Dawg  (op)
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Jul 18, 2005, 07:31 AM
 
DOES THIS LOOK LIKE A MAN WHO CAN SANELY AND ACCURATELY MAKE VIABLE DECISIONS?



     
vmarks
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Jul 18, 2005, 08:26 AM
 
You don't mean to suggest that wheelchair bound people are incompetent, do you?

You don't mean to suggest that elderly people are incompetent, do you?

Why then would you suggest physical characteristics render him incompetent by showing a picture, when it is his mental faculties we're discussing?

Would you show us a pic of Dr. Stephen Hawking and suggest he's mentally unsound?
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von Wrangell
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Jul 18, 2005, 08:29 AM
 
Amazing. I agree with vmarks.

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Cody Dawg  (op)
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Jul 18, 2005, 02:20 PM
 
vmarks: I was discussing AGE.

You made a comment (above) that:

Plenty of other judges have stayed well beyond their peak, into senility and madness even.
You think it's acceptable that judges are making rulings when they are senile and "mad" as you say?

Answer that question will you? I'd like to know the answer to that: Do you think that "senile" and "mad" judges should remain on the bench?
( Last edited by Cody Dawg; Jul 18, 2005 at 03:27 PM. )
     
mitchell_pgh
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Jul 18, 2005, 02:22 PM
 
He should go when he wants to go. That's part of the position...

If it was a mental thing... I would obviously disagree.
     
Cody Dawg  (op)
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Jul 18, 2005, 03:08 PM
 
Well, there you go.

How do we KNOW he doesn't have a "mental thing?"

See, that is what I'm asking, actually: How do we know that the chief justices are mentally sound and capable? Do they take a test every so often? Is there ANYTHING that they must do to prove that they are competent? Or do we just take their word for it?
     
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Jul 18, 2005, 03:42 PM
 
C'mon, how much cognitive ability do you need in order to be a high-court judge? All you do is make a "yes or no" decision, which you could easily do by flipping a coin. In keeping with Bush's "I don't need to appoint an actual judge" philosophy, he should just pick a rat and they can base the rulings on the number of times it stirs in its cage during a trial. [/sarc]
     
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Jul 18, 2005, 03:43 PM
 
As long as he votes right on decisions, he can stay as long as he wants.
     
cpt kangarooski
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Jul 18, 2005, 03:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cody Dawg
Well, there you go.

How do we KNOW he doesn't have a "mental thing?"

See, that is what I'm asking, actually: How do we know that the chief justices are mentally sound and capable? Do they take a test every so often? Is there ANYTHING that they must do to prove that they are competent? Or do we just take their word for it?
If a federal judge or justice has health problems impairing his performance of his duties, it's usually pretty apparent, at least to the other members of their court, the clerks, etc. See, for example, Justice Douglas, who was great until he had a stroke at the end of '74. The other justices avoided situations in which he could have a deciding vote, and pressured him to resign, which he did in '75.

But the Constitution gives everyone under Art. III lifetime positions, unless impeached, which is difficult and exceedingly rare. It's never happened, IIRC, to a justice. Most justices die on the bench; some retire.

At any rate, you seem to be the only one that thinks that he has mental health problems, and your sole basis for it is merely that you disagree with him. That's not petty; that's beyond petty.

Stop being a sore loser, Cody. The Court has made contraversal decisions before, and those who were upset by them never strengthened their case with baseless accusations.
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Jul 18, 2005, 04:09 PM
 
I think Rehnquist has mental problems. He always has.

However I couldn't care less if he continues as chief justice in the USA. It isn't my country and regardless he'll probably be replaced by another nutter.

A lose lose situation IMO. Enjoy!

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Jul 18, 2005, 04:58 PM
 
If the health thing becomes a major distraction, he should. If this is just a one/few times issue, no reason to. Everyone has their moments.
     
Cody Dawg  (op)
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Jul 18, 2005, 08:14 PM
 
I didn't say he had mental health problems. Show me where I said that, cpt. kangarooski.

The truth is that you can't. Because you, like several others, simply think that every single conservative in public office should remain there. You, like several others, are unable to CONSIDER that perhaps, just perhaps, SOME conservatives should not be in politics or positions of power.

I find it very interesting that there are a few states where there are TERM LIMITS for justices, such as New York, yet the Supreme Court thinks that as long as a person is able to be wheeled into office that therefore they must be mentally viable. Fine. That may be acceptable. I think, however, that there should be some sort of mental acuity that must be present and proven for them to remain there, that's all.

And because I think that, the knee-jerk conservatives around here (vmarks) attack me. By the way, vmarks, you never answered the question.

Also, why are you a moderator if you do not practice objectivity? That's why I value Millenium and ThinkInsane's posts, even if they disagree with mine. They make sound and rational and informed decisions, even if they are not necessarily in agreement with mine - and they do not attack the people posting.
     
cpt kangarooski
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Jul 18, 2005, 08:45 PM
 
Because you, like several others, simply think that every single conservative in public office should remain there. You, like several others, are unable to CONSIDER that perhaps, just perhaps, SOME conservatives should not be in politics or positions of power.


As someone who's more liberal than not, I wouldn't be amazingly upset if no conservatives were in politics or positions of power.

However, I'm really more interested in other factors. If a member of the political branches is highly competent, able to cooperate with political opponents rather than going power mad, isn't on the extreme political fringes (which tends to inhibit cooperation anyway), and was properly elected by his constituents, I have no real beef against him. I might prefer someone else, who was closer to me politically, but was similarly qualified with regards to the above factors, but I understand that we're all different, and that we have to get along and accept compromises.

With regards to the Court, the CJ doesn't bother me, though I disagree with his reasoning in a number of cases. Frankly, J Thomas is probably the worst guy on there, basically serving as a second vote for J Scalia most of the time, with no apparent interest in oral arguments.

Still, I wouldn't question his faculties. I just usually don't agree.

I find it very interesting that there are a few states where there are TERM LIMITS for justices, such as New York, yet the Supreme Court thinks that as long as a person is able to be wheeled into office that therefore they must be mentally viable. Fine. That may be acceptable. I think, however, that there should be some sort of mental acuity that must be present and proven for them to remain there, that's all.
And yet this hasn't posed a problem in the past. The courts are capable of dealing with this. The Constitution, meanwhile, provides for life terms, and I think this is probably desirable, as it allows the judges who do keep their wits into old age to continue to serve. I trust the courts in this matter more than the political branches, who would use it for their own agendas.
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Cody Dawg  (op)
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Jul 18, 2005, 11:00 PM
 
Well, thank you for the better response.



I do appreciate your sane and well thought out response.
     
vmarks
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Jul 18, 2005, 11:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cody Dawg
I didn't say he had mental health problems. Show me where I said that, cpt. kangarooski.

The truth is that you can't. Because you, like several others, simply think that every single conservative in public office should remain there. You, like several others, are unable to CONSIDER that perhaps, just perhaps, SOME conservatives should not be in politics or positions of power.

I find it very interesting that there are a few states where there are TERM LIMITS for justices, such as New York, yet the Supreme Court thinks that as long as a person is able to be wheeled into office that therefore they must be mentally viable. Fine. That may be acceptable. I think, however, that there should be some sort of mental acuity that must be present and proven for them to remain there, that's all.

And because I think that, the knee-jerk conservatives around here (vmarks) attack me. By the way, vmarks, you never answered the question.

Also, why are you a moderator if you do not practice objectivity? That's why I value Millenium and ThinkInsane's posts, even if they disagree with mine. They make sound and rational and informed decisions, even if they are not necessarily in agreement with mine - and they do not attack the people posting.

I didn't attack you, I attacked the substance of your post. you made a flawed argument, that a picture showing physical infirmity somehow revealed mental infirmity.

You attacked me just now, with your knee-jerk comment. I've never treated you in such a fashion.

Lastly, I like the Constitution. I like it's elegance. As a document it has served well for over two hundred years. I don't much like arguments that begin "I like the Constitution except..."

I understand that you want to add term limits. I understand that you're not a fan of Rehnquist, and see his infirmity as a threat to the court and the nation. I accept that the Constitution provisions for life terms for Justices. If you want to change that, get a Constitutional amendment ratified. For myself, we've seen a fairly large number of mentally unfit Justices sit on the court, and the country has weathered good decisions and bad. Heck, in his last years on the court, it was Thurgood Marshall who had his aides writing his opinions and said frequently "If I die, prop me up and keep on voting."

You might do well to read up on the following judges:

James Wilson, 1789.
John Rutledge, 1795.
Henry Brockhoist Livingston, 1806.
Henry Baldwin, 1830.
Robert C. Grier, 1867.
Nathan Clifford, 1858.
Stephen J. Field, 1863.
Joseph McKenna, 1897.
James C. Reynolds, 1914.
Hugo Black, 1937.
Felix Frankfurter, 1939.
William O. Douglas, 1939.
Charles Whittaker, 1957.
Abe Fortas, 1965.
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Jul 19, 2005, 07:17 PM
 
Before I came into this thread I was of the idea that he should retire. After reading some responses and thinking about it, I think as long as he can demonstrate competence, awareness, and a desire to keep doing what he does, he should stay at his post. Fortunately for him, the Constitution does not force him out.
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Jul 19, 2005, 07:22 PM
 
You guys should organize an impeachment movement against him.

ImpulseResponse
     
nonhuman
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Jul 19, 2005, 07:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by GSixZero
You guys should organize an impeachment movement against him.
Nah, they don't want to actually do stuff. That would be way harder than bitching about it online where no one important will ever read it and then do something about it taking away their reasons to complain.
     
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Jul 19, 2005, 08:38 PM
 
One interesting thing about The Court is that it is self-policing. The Justices keep an eye on each other, and frequently provide important feedback to each other on personal matters such as health or lack of focus. Besides being of different idiological backgrounds, they are colleagues who work together in a very serious job. They NEED each other as sounding boards for their reasoning, their rhetoric (which is NOT a bad word, by the way) and their understanding of both law and arguments.

Justice Rehnquist should retire when he believes that is the best thing for him and the nation. Until then, we, who do not know anything about the inner workings of either The Court or Justice Rehnquit's mind, should leave him alone to deal with what he has to deal with.

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Cody Dawg  (op)
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Jul 21, 2005, 08:17 AM
 
Why should the presidency have term limits but not the Supreme Court?

     
cpt kangarooski
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Jul 21, 2005, 11:07 AM
 
There are no term limits for any Art. III federal judge. This is so that they cannot face political pressure at all, and therefore are able to act in the interests of justice without needing to worry about whether they can keep their position in the future. It gives them the ability to do things that are just, yet unpopular with the people or the other branches.

It's the elected branches that are supposed to consider what's popular, since popularity is what determines whether they'll be back. The courts are supposed to ignore all that and do what's right.

Also note that term limits were only put on the Presidency recently, following the unprecedented four terms to which FDR was elected. Few of his predecessors had even considered running a third time. Having just come out of WW2, and still facing Stalin, we wanted to avoid the possibility of getting dictators for life.

Neither of the other branches is in a position where that's a concern. They don't get 'concentrated' in a single position, like the presidency, and their powers are quite different, posing no great risk.
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dreilly1
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Jul 25, 2005, 10:00 PM
 
It looks like someone on the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board is reading CodyBlog™....

http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110007012

Actually, he has a few points which are making me rethink my position, at least on the matter of life appointments. (I still think that mandatory retirement ages are a good idea...)

Do we really want lifetime tenure for Supreme Court justices? The Framers of the Constitution, of course, gave us this judicial sinecure for the express purpose of insulating the courts from political pressures of the moment. But then again, 220 years ago life expectancy wasn't what it is today and the courts had yet to claim the power of "judicial review," the power to determine which laws meet constitutional muster. For the Founders, the courts did not exercise the sweeping, unaccountable power they do now. That's one reason why many people are now coming around to the notion of instituting an 18-year term limit on Supreme Court justices. They include conservatives such as former presidential candidate Steve Forbes and liberals such as Paul Carrington, the former dean of Duke University's law school.
18 years is a very long time -- long enough to sit through nine different congressional terms or four full presidential terms with some time to spare at either end. It would provide the insulation from the political world that the Framers intended when making the Supreme Court a life appointment.

A term of 18 years would, at the very least, insure that each President gets a chance to appoint at least two Justices during a four-year term. (I say at least two because, of course, a justice who dies in office would need to be replaced). In a way, this might be less political than the current situation: a justice would not be tempted to hang on for an extra amount of time just so that someone who is of a similar ideology would pick their successor. The time of their replacement is set in stone, and whoever happens to be in office at the time will pick the replacement.

I'm still not convinced -- There's a lot of logistics that needs to be taken care of, like whether to limit the terms of the justices already serving, and how to account for mid-term replacements. And even though each individual justice would have a long term, the composition of the court itself would be changing every two years, and in a predictable direction at that, depending on who is in charge in Congress and the Presidency, which probably does not serve to insulate the institution from political winds very well. But the notion probably deserves more discussion....

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Jul 28, 2005, 11:18 AM
 
When justices refuse to retire

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/edi...use_to_retire/

By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist | July 28, 2005

ON JULY 14, Chief Justice William Rehnquist announced that he was not about to retire from the Supreme Court. ''I will continue to perform my duties as chief justice as long as my health permits," he said, adding that he wanted his statement ''to put to rest the speculation and unfounded rumors of my imminent retirement."

That is exactly what it did. For months, Rehnquist's expected departure had been widely discussed. But virtually overnight, the subject was dropped. In the weeks ahead, great quantities of newsprint and air time will be devoted to considering whether John Roberts, the president's choice to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor, belongs on the Supreme Court. But almost nothing will be said about whether Rehnquist does. Because the Constitution provides no retirement age for Supreme Court justices, whether Rehnquist stays or goes is entirely up to him.

Perhaps the 80-year-old chief justice, who is suffering from thyroid cancer, can still do his job. But can he do it well? After surgery and chemotherapy last year, he was too ill to attend oral arguments, or even, it seems, to study the briefs and memos in each case. (He said he would vote only in cases that would otherwise end in a tie.) He walks and speaks with obvious difficulty. He is sick, weak, and old, and it is hard to believe that his physical decline has been unaccompanied by a decline in his abilities as a judge.

And Rehnquist isn't even the court's oldest member. John Paul Stevens, a Ford appointee, is 85. How is he holding up under the pressures of Supreme Court life? Maybe he is the rare octogenarian who hasn't lost anything off his fastball. But he could be sliding into senility, and it would make no difference to his constitutional status. Stevens will remain a high court justice, with all the power that position confers, until he dies or chooses to resign.

The mental collapse of an aging Supreme Court justice may sound like a fanciful Hollywood plot. In fact, the historian David J. Garrow showed in a remarkable survey published in the University of Chicago Law Review in 2000, ''the history of the court is replete with repeated instances of justices casting decisive votes . . . when their colleagues and/or families had serious doubts about their mental capacities."

The problem is a very old one. John Rutledge, who served briefly as chief justice after a recess appointment by President Washington, was so shattered by the death of his wife, a contemporary noted, ''as to be in a great measure deprived of his senses." At least twice during his time on the court he tried to commit suicide by drowning himself.

Fortunately, Rutledge left after just six months. Not so Henry Baldwin, who joined the court in 1830 and less than two years later was clearly mentally ill. He missed the court's entire 1833 term because he had to be hospitalized for ''incurable lunacy"; his colleague Joseph Story described him as ''partially deranged at all times." But there was no way to compel his retirement, and Baldwin remained on the court until his death in 1844.

Over and over the story line has been repeated: A Supreme Court justice suffers serious mental decline but refuses to step down. By the start of the 1880 term, Nathan Clifford had been reduced to ''a babbling idiot," a fellow justice wrote. ''He did not know me or any thing, and though his tongue framed words, there was no sense in them." Joseph McKenna was so far gone, Chief Justice William Howard Taft lamented in 1922, that he ''wrote an opinion deciding the case one way when there had been a unanimous vote the other, including his own." Taft himself stayed on the bench too long. ''I am older and slower and less acute and more confused," he admitted privately in 1929. But he was determined to hang on ''in order to prevent the Bolsheviki from getting control."

Hugo Black once told his clerks that justices who stay in office longer than they should ''impose terrible burdens" on their colleagues. But he didn't take his own advice, refusing to resign even when a stroke had wrecked his memory and ability to concentrate. A stroke debilitated William O. Douglas's mental abilities, too. In his last years on the bench, he addressed people by the wrong names, spoke in non sequiturs, and dozed during oral arguments. Even after finally retiring, he continued to show up at the court, insisting in his dementia that he was still a sitting justice.

Age sometimes brings wisdom, but too often it brings weakness, fatigue, and mental incapacity. Americans would be aghast at an airline that permitted 80-year-old pilots to fly its jets or a hospital whose surgeons were feeble and confused. Shouldn't we at least be concerned about superannuated Supreme Court judges?
     
budster101
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Illinois might be cold and flat, but at least it's ugly.
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Jul 28, 2005, 11:22 AM
 
True- true. He should resign.
     
   
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