The Future of the Court

O’Brien quotes Justice Harlan explaining to Justice Potter Stewart that the chambers of the justices are “like nine firms, sometimes practicing law against one another.” (O’Brien, p. 132). Justice Powell said, “we function as nine small, independent law firms.”   Id.  Now that you have read this author’s description of how the Court functions and the role of the participants, do you have an opinion as to whether the justices should be appointed for life or whether another appointment timeline or election system should be devised.

In addition to the article provided in the week’s Lesson for your reference, defend your position with at least two reliable references.

The Future of the Court

As we close out this term together and ponder the issues presented in this week’s Forum topic, we take into account what we have learned over the past eight weeks.  How the Court will handle issues that come before it depends on so many factors. We have covered many, but not exhausted them all.

Will the Court rely to a large extent on stare decisis?  Will Chief Justice Roberts lead this current Court in a particular direction?  Will the clerks continue to have an increasing role in determining which cases are selected on cert?

Throughout this term, we have considered whether certain precedent, rules, and procedure were contemplated by the Founders.  Essential to this consideration is the lifetime appointment of federal judges.  While this seems to be something we take for granted when it comes to Supreme Court Justices, in particular, the longevity of people now, as opposed to when the Constitution was written, raises new issues about the impact that each of the nine may have on our justice system and the country.  Regardless, what are the alternatives?  Many local jurisdictions elect judges, and some have retention measures.  Would this system or some hybrid be preferable?
This week we will read a Washington Post article below that describes some suggestions by some of the country’s top legal scholars to end life terms for, but not necessarily elect, our Supreme Court justices.  What do you think about this in the context of the balance of power both in terms of what our Founding Fathers envisioned and how the government functions today.   Consider this article as you join our final discussion on the Forum!

Another article is about a current justice who relatively recently joined the Court.  Consider the impact that Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor may have on the Court and what changes, if any, you anticipate in the rulings that will be handed down in the terms to come.  Additionally, these articles may provide more insight into the appointment process.

Legal Experts Propose Limiting Justices’ Powers, Terms

By Robert Barnes

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 23, 2009
Sotomayor’s rulings trend mainstream

By Alex Leary
Times Staff Writer
Friday, July 10, 2009

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