Justice Stevens, the fourth longest serving justice in our highest court's history, is set to retire. Whether you have agreed with his opinions over the years, you must afford the Justice this: he followed the law as he interpreted it to be, and for that he is to be applauded.
Am I surprised at the timing? No. Why? Because he is almost 90? No, I know a few folks in their 90s that can do as well or better a job at parsing legal arguments as those in their 40s. And his health seems good for a man of his age.
Justice Stevens' refusal to hire the usual number of law clerks this term (a job most highly coveted by law school graduates) was certainly a tip off that this announcement was pending. But the real clincher was not either of those factors: it was the election of President Obama. With his election, Justice Stevens could pass along the mantle to a "safe" seat.
Is Justice Stevens alone in making such "political" calculations? Absolutely not...whether they are labeled "conservative" or "liberal" or somewhere in between, retiring Justices want to keep their seat "safe"...and many will hold on to their job until they make sure they do. Once again, today’s news demonstrates that the real import of a presidential election is not the desk in the Oval Office itself, but the opportunities the president he or she has to select Justices who will make decisions that have a direct impact on all our lives.
Lis Wiehl is a Fox News legal analyst and author. Her latest book “Hand of Fate” has just been published.
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Lis Wiehl currently serves as a legal analyst for FOX News Channel (FNC). She joined the network in October 2001.