Supreme Court Retirees

June 1, 2000

As this session of the Supreme Court is winding down, the terms of some of the Supreme Court justices may be winding down as well. Consider that Justice John Paul Stevens is 80, Chief Justice William Rehnquist is 75, and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is 70. The court is getting older, and it is likely that many of the justices will retire soon.

And that makes the election in November even more important. Court experts say that anywhere from two to four spots will probably open up in the next four years. The next president will be able to shape that court in a significant way.

Vice President Al Gore has already stated his belief that the Constitution is a "living document" which can be interpreted according to the social and political needs of the time. On the campaign trail he says, "If you believe in a woman's right to choose--a right that must never be undermined, must never be weakened, must never be taken away--then join us now. The Supreme Court is at stake--and our campaign is your cause."

George W. Bush opposes abortion in most cases (though he allows for exceptions like rape, incest, life of the mother). He has insisted that he won't screen candidates on their stand on abortion, but it is likely that he won't ignore their views either.

So we have two very different candidates with two very different judicial philosophies. Whoever is elected will change the balance of the court. Currently there are three conservatives (Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas) and four liberals (Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, Souter) and two swing votes (Kennedy and O'Connor). Whoever we elect in November will swing the balance to one side or the other. Remember that when you cast your vote in the fall.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.