Keep the Rumors Coming
One Senator claims he has specific knowledge that the vacancy is coming. The speculation revolves around 85-year-old Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. Stevens, as the rumor is embellished, supposedly let it be known that he is impressed with the caliber of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., as well as with that of Associate Justice Alito. Stevens supposedly told the White House that even though he is a Rockefeller Republican (he was President Gerald R. Ford's only Court appointee during the period when Nelson A. Rockefeller was Vice President) he believes the Court would not move radically to the right should he depart.When you first read that, you probably had the same reaction that I had. "The Court would not move radically to the right", are you kidding me? Surely Justice Stevens is joking. He must be aware of the members of his voting bloc on the Court, and they sure aren't on the Right.
But there might be something to this. Stevens still considers himself a Republican. He's a Rockefeller Republican, which is sort of the dodo bird of the Republican Party. As long as he sees himself as a Republican, he is one. If he thinks that the Court is in good hands with people like Roberts and Alito, why not retire while he's still on top of his legal game?
These are still just rumors. There had been rumors about Stevens during Clinton's presidency, including one where the White House asked him to retire so Clinton could name his replacement. That was more than a little offensive. These rumors are probably just that, rumors. There is a lot of wishful thinking that a retirement is coming. I think that there will be one before the next presidential election, but I'll be pleasantly surprised if one happens at the end of the Court's term.