Bill Clinton For Supreme Court? Too Old

clintons-too-oldIt doesn’t happen too often but I agree with Bill Clinton. He’s absolutely right when he says he and his wife are too old for the Supreme Court.

Bill and Hillary Clinton have both held big jobs in their lives, but the ex-president said Sunday that Supreme Court justice shouldn’t be among them – they’re too old.

“I’d like to see him put someone in there, late 40s, early 50s, on the court, and someone with a lot of energy for the job,” the 63-year-old Clinton told ABC’s “This Week” when asked about President Obama’s upcoming replacement of Justice John Paul Stevens. Since Stevens, 90, announced his retirement, both Clintons have been mentioned as


But the ex-president said he and his wife, Secretary of State Clinton – who met at Yale Law School in the early 1970s – would counsel the president against picking either of them.   “She would be good at it,” Clinton said of his wife, 62, adding that at “one point in her life, she might [have] been interested.”  “But she’s like me, you know, we’re kind of doers,” Clinton said. “I think if she were asked, she would advise the President to appoint some 10, 15 years younger.”

As for himself, “I’m already 63-years-old,” said Clinton, who neglected to mention that his law license was suspended for five years after he left office as part of a settlement over the Monica Lewinsky affair.  “I hope I live to be 90,” he said. “I hope I’m just as healthy as Justice Stevens is. But it’s not predictable.”

It’s really a shame that Supreme Court Justices have lifetime appointments and therefore incentivize presidents to pick very young people for the bench.  In an ideal world, you’d probably prefer more life experience.   And, while I don’t like their politics, the Clintons are both more than qualified intellectually and professionally for the job.

But Clinton is right:  At 63 and 62, they’re a decade too close to the end of their careers.

I made the argument in some detail last weekend in “Hillary Clinton Too Old for Supreme Court” and in passing in May 2008’s “Hillary Clinton for Supreme Court?“  Indeed, I made the argument in October 2005 when Harriet Miers was nominated to the Supreme Court, observing, “Her resume is impressive enough but it is unclear why Bush would nominate someone this old to the Court. In recent years, the trend has been to pick someone in their mid-40s or early 50s to increase the likelihood they would serve a long time.”  In the subsequent days and weeks, I would rescind the first part of that analysis.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Highlander says:


  2. steve says:

    One of the best things the country could do, is to shorten time served on the Supreme Court to 10 years.


  3. UlyssesUnbound says:

    said Clinton, who neglected to mention that his law license was suspended for five years after he left office as part of a settlement over the Monica Lewinsky affair.

    And that suspension disqualifies him for the Supreme Court how? Last time I checked there are no Constitutional or legislative qualifications for Supreme Court justice. Indeed, even if as a matter of practicality legal experience is a must, I don’t see how a suspension of a license takes away that experience.

    Am I wrong on this? IANAL nor a person who has really had any dealings with the justice system, let alone something as high as the Supreme Court. Is there a qualification I’m not aware of, or was that just shoddy reporting/the reporter getting his barbs in?

    Also Highlander, any evidence that either Clinton didn’t and don’t work their asses of in their respective jobs? or by “lazy” do you mean “I don’t like them and therefore will attach meaningless insults.”

  4. Zelsdorf Ragshaft IIIz says:

    Ulysses, you meet the qualifications to be named to the SCOTUS. You are probably better qualified, even while hitting your bong, than is the former President. While he remains unconvicted of any criminal activities. His disregard for the law makes him a prime candidate for the left but a poor choice for the country.

  5. G.A.Phillips says:

    lol……only if he inhales……

  6. sookie says:

    @ UlyssesUnbond, Maybe losing his license for lying under oath doesn’t disqualify him, but shouldn’t it?

    @Zelsdorf, Perhaps I’m mistaken but didn’t he enter a plea before a judge for lying under oath or some minor crime when his license was suspended or which caused his license to be suspended?

    I don’t think he should have been impeached, unless the woman was claiming rape or abuse of some kind. Or alternatively he was being blackmailed in some way about his affair with Lewinski. Lying about a consensual affair, in and of itself, shouldn’t rise to the level of high crimes or misdemeanors, that should be prosecuted. Yes, yes, I understand the crime was lying under oath…. about a consensual affair. At most it should have been investigated to determine if he was exploiting her. When it was determined it was consensual, dropped.

    However, there were plenty of women who were making those kinds of claims. If they were legit that’s what he should have been prosecuted for. If they weren’t, well, they weren’t. And trumped up charges shouldn’t have entered the picture.

    On it’s face, lying under oath (for any reason) should disqualify him from appointment to SCOTUS. Actions have consequences and he could have chosen to tell the truth. That and his continuing dumb remarks about the OKC bomber and ‘links’ to the Tea Party. Those alone should disqualify him.

  7. UlyssesUnbound says:


    I agree completely with your assessment. I think losing his license should be a disqualifier in that the senate would have to be crazy to confirm someone to the highest legal position in the land when that person lost his ability to practice law.

    My only point was the article seemed to be sticking in that fact as if it were something that barred him from being confirmed. It of course doesn’t.