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If you're reading this, chances are that you've heard that United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently called a key part of the Voting Rights Act, a "perpetuation of racial entitlement," during oral argument in Shelby County v. Holder. Most likely, you're pretty pissed off. The good news is: You are, and should be, pissed off. The bad news is: Most likely, Justice Scalia isn’t going anywhere - that is, until he decides to retire.
It's possible - to impeach a Supreme Court justice - but it's probably not going to happen. The last, and only, justice to be impeached was Justice Samuel Chase, in 1805. Chase’s impeachment fixed the idea that Justices of the Supreme Court are prohibited from engaging in partisan politics. Indeed, those pressing for Chase’s impeachment argued extensively that Chase allowed his political bias to influence his decision making on the bench. And notably, among the eight articles of impeachment Chase was served with, the last accused Chase of making “intemperate and inflammatory … peculiarly indecent and unbecoming … highly unwarrantable … highly indecent” remarks. Notwithstanding, the Senate acquitted Chase on March 1, 1805, and he continued to serve on the Court until his death on June 19, 1811. Since then, all articles of impeachment served on lower federal judges – remember no other Supreme Court justices have been impeached - have arisen out of ethical or legal misdeeds, rather than any performance standards.
The good news is that Justice Scalia is old. He was born on March 11, 1936, which makes him almost seventy-seven, and he’s been serving on the Court since September 26, 1986. In 2016, when we elect the next President of the United States (#Hillary2016), Justice Scalia will be well on his way to eighty-one. Should that president serve two terms, Justice Scalia will be almost eighty-nine by the time the 2024 election takes place. To put that into perspective, the oldest person ever to serve on the Court was Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who retired at ninety. Moreover, Justice Scalia is already roughly seven years older than the average age at which Supreme Court Justices typically retire. So, it’s highly likely that the President after Barack Obama will appoint Justice Scalia’s successor.
What does this all mean for you? My hope is that you’ll realize, now more than ever, how important it is to make sure that the right justices are on the Court. Because, if you think what Justice Scalia said about the Voting Rights Act was bad, you'll want to jump off a bridge when you hear that he’s been making that very same argument for the last twenty years, not to mention all the ridiculous things he’s said, and will undoubtedly continue to say, about Affirmative Action, Homosexuality, Women, and more. And if you don’t want to deal with this sort of thing happening over and over again for the rest of your life, get mad! But make sure you channel your frustration and anger into constructive energy. Get out there and get behind good government. Make sure that the GOP doesn’t get the chance to appoint yet another Justice Scalia (::cough:: Clarence Thomas ::cough::). Connect with members of the left who are already preparing for 2014 & 2016. #UniteBlue