Supreme Court Chess Games in Focus as Election 2012 Approaches

It is no secret that some Supreme Court justices tend to be more liberal while others tend to be more conservative. This isn't always obvious or indeed that important; many cases of the more mundane variety see The Nine agreeing on the result. On the contrary, while less common, the types of cases which catch the public's eye often have the type of political undertones that can lead to idealogical splits. It is in these big cases that the political mix of judges on the Court makes the biggest difference; the hesitation of the SCOTUS to change precedential rulings except in extreme circumstances can lead to the implications of a Court's decision echoing through the legal system for years or even decades.

Halls of justice or home of political intrigue?

With this backdrop, the otherwise lifetime tenures of Supreme Court justices can become politicized, particularly once they are well past what other Americans would deem to be a comfortable retirement age. This is because, as many readers will know, sitting presidents have the ability to nominate justices to replace those who have stepped down. Currently, with Justices Ginsberg and Breyer in their seventies and a President who, despite a recent boost, has proven to be far from a reelection certainty, some liberal commentators are calling for these two justices to 'take one for the team' by moving their respective retirement dates ahead. This would give the President two more appointments before the already cloudy political waters become even murkier in 2012. For more on this, visit The Wall St. Journal's legal blog here.

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