Even if President Obama only serves one term, some may think that it is still a bit early to be considering his future employment plans. However, Professor Jeffrey Rosen does just that in The Washington Post today. Professor Rosen lays out a few plausible scenarios which, if they came to fruition, could lead to Obama following in the footsteps of one-term president William Taft, who was elected in 1908, failed in a re-election bid, and went on to arguably made a bigger impact than he ever did in the White House as a Supreme Court justice.
Though many would be happy to see Obama seek and win a second term, some have speculated recently that Obama is more interested in creating actual change than in re-election. This could lead to changes come 2012, particularly if the recent backlash against policies such as healthcare leads to voter action. However, if the President is, indeed, more concerned with change and social reform than his political career, getting as much legislation passed while he is in office before going to the Supreme Court could ultimately prove to be the best move he could make as a self-styled progressive. Any talk of a Supreme Court posting at least implicitly concedes this line of reasoning, though the biggest supporters of a Court featuring Obama likely view this as a worst case scenario.
To Americans used to presidents who leave office and put the heavy lifting aside to write memoirs, give speeches and work on charities, it might be a bit of a curiosity to have a retired Commander-in-Chief sitting on the highest court in the land. However, it is not entirely without precedent, and such a move may be the best way for a frustrated reformer to impact the nation.