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50 years of Republican Supreme Courts


Abe Fortas resigned 50 years ago today, which means it’s been exactly a half century since the Supreme Court had a majority of its justices appointed by a Democratic president.

That’s a remarkable stat for all sorts of reasons, including these:

(1) For most of this time (28 out of 50 years, or 56% for you tOSU fans) Democrats have held a majority in the Senate.

(2) For 12 of those 28 years, Democrats also occupied the presidency. Republicans have held both the Senate and the presidency in only 16 of the past 50 years — and yet not once has the SCOTUS had a majority of Democratic-appointed justices.

(3) As time goes on, I realize just what you mean . . . sorry, lost my train of thought there. As time goes on, Breyer’s and Ginsburg’s decisions not to resign before the 2014 election become increasingly indefensible. I think it’s safe to say we’ve just about arrived at “no longer even a little defensible.”

(4) Speaking of constitutional crises, it seems almost inevitable that we’re going to have SCOTUS seats going unfilled for years in the very near future, because it’s going to be almost impossible to fill one when the presidency and the Senate are held by different parties, as has been the case in 22 of the last 50 years. In fact I would expect the next Democratic president to be dealing with this situation almost immediately after taking office, assuming our luck continues to hold with Ginsburg and Breyer.

(5) Speaking of really old people, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are both older than every Democratic presidential nominee since Dukakis is TODAY. (Indeed every Democratic presidential nominee since George McGovern is still alive, improbably enough.)

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