Justice Stevens announced his retirement today, effective at the end of the the Supreme Court’s session in June. Stevens has been on the court for 34 years and has been one of the most steadfast members of the court’s “liberal” wing. Current favorites for replacement are Solicitor General Elena Kagan, 49, and federal appellate Judges Merrick Garland, 57, and Diane Wood, 59.
I’m not a big believer in the Supreme Court as a life-or-death cause, mostly due to its elite nature and tendency to rule above all else in the interests of big capital. Yet Justice Stevens had a tendency to make thoughtful decisions in the interest of civil liberties and rights, and I am unsure his potential replacements will do the same. Elena Kagan has an odious record already as Solicitor General; last year she argued that battlefield law, including indefinite detentions, could extend beyond the physical battlefield into areas of the world where no conflict was occurring. Garland is a “judicial moderate,” whatever that might mean. Wood seems to be the best of the three, with heavy intellectual honors preceding her and a bevy of decent decisions in her status as an appellate judge.
Given Obama’s tendency to made choices in the interests of big capital himself, I would assume we’re going to see a pick they’re on good terms with.