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Two Supreme Court Vacancies Possible This Summer

by @ 8:28 am on February 4, 2010. Filed under Barack Obama, Politicos & Pundits, Politics, Supreme Court

Well, this could certainly make the run-up to the 2010 Elections interesting:

Lawyers for President Obama have been working behind the scenes to prepare for the possibility of one, and maybe two Supreme Court vacancies this spring.

Court watchers believe two of the more liberal members of the court, justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, could decide to step aside for reasons of age and health. That would give the president his second and third chance to shape his legacy on the Supreme Court.

It is widely believed that Justice Stevens, 89, sent a strong signal of his intention to retire when he confirmed for The Associated Press last fall that he wasn’t going to hire a full complement of clerks for next term. The justice has been coy with the press, telling USA Today’s Joan Biskupic that he was surprised by the media frenzy regarding his potential retirement.

“That can’t be news” he said, declining to reveal his plans. “I’m not exactly a kid.”

Justice Ginsburg, 76, announced a year ago that she had undergone surgery for early stage pancreatic cancer.

Sources close to Ginsburg dismissed retirement speculation, pointing out that she has been a lively and active participant in oral arguments this term and has on several occasions expressed an interest in serving for more years to come.

In a September press release from the court, Ginsburg revealed that she had had a “comprehensive assessment of health” last summer and that she was in “completely normal health with the exception of a low red blood cell count caused by deficiency of iron.”

If one or both of the justices retire, the administration would have to calculate whether it could nominate candidates who could deliver votes as consistently liberal on major ideological issues as Stevens and Ginsburg do in an age of increasingly political confirmation wars.

That’s especially true in an election year.

This could be fun.

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