WASHINGTON Senior citizens dominate the Supreme Court. And this year's election will determine whether President Barack Obama or President Mitt Romney fills any vacancies they might leave. Whichever party is in charge, a vacancy in the next presidential term seems a foregone conclusion, perhaps more than one.
Four Supreme Court justices are over the age of 70: Stephen Breyer is 74, Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia are 76 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a pancreatic cancer survivor, is 79.
Ginsburg has hinted that she intends to match the court tenure of the late Justice Louis Brandeis, a goal that, if held to, would have her retiring in 2015. That's within the next presidential term.
If any or all leave the court, the ensuing confirmation struggles could shape law and politics for years to come.
Despite the court's significance to their own futures, neither Obama nor Romney has dwelled on the subject. But behind the scenes, analysts and insiders are sizing up the possible appointments.
Among potential Democratic nominees, Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a former prosecutor, wins praise for his intellect and moderation, though his prospects are hurt by his turning 60 a week after the election. Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, 53, a Harvard Law School graduate, still appeals to those who want real-world political experience on the court, as does Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, 54.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris, 47, has also seen her name floated.
Among potential Republican nominees, former Bush administration Solicitor General Paul Clement is, at 46, often characterized as the nation's best Supreme Court advocate and a nomination front-runner by any measure.
Neck and neck as a potential GOP contender may be one of Garland's highly regarded colleagues on the D.C.-based appellate court, 47-year-old Judge Brett Kavanaugh. At least a dozen other Republican appointees on the nation's appellate courts, the bench from which Supreme Court nominees often are picked, are likewise under the age of 53.
© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.
Read more articles by Michael Doyle
What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com
Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)
Here are some rules of the road:
Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "Report Abuse" link to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.
Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.
Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.
Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand.
Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.
Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.
Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.
Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.
Don't flag other users' comments just because you don't agree with their point of view. Please only flag comments that violate these guidelines.
You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "Report Abuse" link to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.
If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them.