Dangerous game

According to Reuters, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg "vowed to resist any pressure to retire that might come from liberals who want to ensure that Democratic President Barack Obama can pick her successor before the November 2016 presidential election."

I love Ginsburg (Jeffrey Toobin's profile of her in a recent issue of The New Yorker, locked behind the paywall now, is a good place to start if you want to learn more about her), but if this report is true Ginsburg is being shockingly reckless. We've seen how quickly so much can be undone in a short time by the Supreme Court having Roberts replace O'Connor, I'd be stunned if Ginsburg didn't ultimately realize how much of her life's work could unravel in just a few years if her seat was vacated with a conservative President in office. 

Lots of ifs, but that's just the point: Obama is President now, she is still healthy now, these are things we know. 2016-2020 is an unknown. 

The Oath

I just finished The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin. it's his follow-up to his best-seller The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. Both are great.

I'm generally not too interested in law, but Toobin is covering only the most interesting cases of the highest court in the land, and I found both books engrossing. For this layman, what's eye-opening and somewhat shocking is just how powerful the nine Supreme Court justices are and how politicized the appointment process has become. In many ways, which nine people make up the Supreme Court should matter much more to the the average American citizen than who is elected President. A President can serve only up to 8 years in that office, but Supreme Court justices have decades to shape American life in the most fundamental ways. In fact, one of the ways it really matters who we elect President is that they get to appoint new Supreme Court justices as previous ones retire or pass away.

I've spoken to some of my friends who work in law, and some disagree with Toobin's legal assessments, but for someone without a deep knowledge of law, the book is written at the perfect level. Call it the "New Yorker" level of insight into a topic, as Toobin is one of their writers and an exemplar of the New Yorker idea presentation style.

Related: Critical Legal Studies