Hillary Clinton Too Old For Supreme Court
Speculating on Supreme Court appointments is a great parlor game and throwing the “pick a politician” wildcard into the game is especially fun. Ezra Klein jumps in with both feet:
I’ve always been partial to the idea of seeing Hillary Clinton appointed to the Supreme Court. She’s got a law degree, of course. She’s practiced law, practiced politics and practiced statecraft. She’s been present in both the executive and the legislative branch. She’s done an enormous amount of retail politics, which I think is useful. She’s smart and hardworking and has proven herself adaptable to a wide range of institutions. The counterargument I got on Twitter is that she’s controversial, but I’m not sure I really believe that anymore. She’s well-known, and many Republicans in the Senate like her personally.
Hillary would be confirmed easily, I’d think. The 1990s are over and the controversies surrounding her have long since died down. She was, by all accounts, a hard worker and excellent colleague in the Senate and she sailed to confirmation as Secretary of State.
But, even assuming Obama decides to bypass the recent trend of picking law professors and appeals court justices — preferably those with little history of taking controversial positions — I don’t think Hillary is the gal.
She’s too old.
Now, by modern standards, 62 isn’t old anymore. And she’s obviously quite active and seemingly healthy. But presidents don’t get a lot of chances to appoint Supreme Court Justices — Obama has already gotten two more chances than Jimmy Carter got in his whole presidency and as many as Bill Clinton got in two whole terms — and they want those picks to remain in office years, preferably decades, after their own tenure ends.
Let’s look at the current roster of Justices and their ages when joining the Court:
- Chief Justice John Roberts: 50
- Sonia Sotomayor: 54
- Samuel Alito: 56.
- Stephen Breyer: 55 (a few days shy of 56)
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 60
- Clarence Thomas: 43
- Anthony Kennedy: 51
- Antonin Scalia: 50
- John Paul Stevens: 55
Stevens was appointed by Gerald Ford 35 years ago. He served the entirety of the presidencies of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush plus the first half of Barack Obama’s first term. That sort of longevity is the goal.
Does Hillary Clinton have another 35 good years in her? Through age 97? Well, let us hope. But, were I a betting man, I’d prefer to put my money on a younger horse.
UPDATE: I see that I already wrote a post titled “Hillary Clinton for Supreme Court?” back in May 2008. I’ve therefore renamed this one to more directly reflect my thesis.