Orbital View: Munich or Hoth?

With a possible Merrick Garland confirmation and the prospect of another Democrat in the Oval Office, the left can’t help but dream about an ideal judicial docket: abortion rights, voting rights, campaign finance…

What might it mean to have five justices on the Supreme Court who were appointed by Democratic presidents? Since 1970, the year Harry Blackmun received Senate confirmation, there always have been at least five justices appointed by a Republican president on the Court. If Merrick Garland is confirmed to replace Antonin Scalia, he will join Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan as Democratic appointees to the high Court.

Also, the next president, especially if he or she serves two terms, is likely to have three other vacancies to fill on the Court. Since 1960, the average age at which a Supreme Court justice has left the bench is 79 years old. There will be three justices 79 or older in 2017, when the next president is inaugurated. Ginsburg will turn 85, Anthony Kennedy 81, and Breyer 79, all in 2017.