Being a U.S. Supreme Court justice is a great job. You get to keep it as long as you want, have a huge staff, are surrounded by smart people, are on a court that gets to pick the cases it decides and you get the whole summer off. Who else in the legal profession gets to take off the entire summer? No one, as far as I know.
So it’s not hard to imagine that some justices stay on the Court too long. Such as, perhaps, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Some people don’t need to publicly comment on presidential elections. Generals in the military and Article III judges, for instance. Especially Supreme Court justices, who have been known to decide a presidential election.
So why’d she do it? Well, she’s 83. Think she would have publicly made similar comments at 63? Me neither.
What happens when age catches up to someone with a lifetime appointment?
People spend about the first 30 years of their lives learning how to keep from saying inappropriate things. Then they rock along until about age 65, when they start forgetting how to keep from saying inappropriate things.
Old people losing the governor on their mouths is a real thing. Don’t believe? Google in the neighborhood of “why do old people say inappropriate things” and get back to me.
Or, better yet, talk to colleagues who have really old parents. Ask them if their parent ever publicly says inappropriate things. I’m not saying they all do. But if you ask around, you will not have to ask that many people to find someone who has a parent who suddenly does something like repeatedly drop the ‘N’ word in a waiting room full of African-Americans. I didn’t make that up either. Or read it on the internet. That’s from a first hand account from the really embarrassed child.
And I’m not picking on Justice Ginsburg. Her buddy Justice Scalia was also running his mouth too much before he died earlier this year at age 79. Notice that you don’t see Chief Justice Roberts (age 61) or Justice Kagan (age 56) talking too much. I’m convinced it’s an age thing.
I’d like to see a mandatory retirement age for U.S. Supreme Court justices. Age 75 seems about the right age. Maybe they could take senior status or something and get assigned court of appeals cases if they want to keep working. That would be a much lower profile and reporters wouldn’t be hanging on their every word.