Criteria: Black and female
Our Constitution doesn’t provide any real criteria by modern standards for what qualifications a justice on the Supreme Court must possess. In theory, one doesn’t even have to have a law degree.
Historically, Presidents have appointed individuals with extensive experience in the law. Most appointees have been appellate court judges on the federal bench for many years. Most Supreme Court nominees come from Ivy League schools, which in all honesty subjects the Court to accusations of elitism.
Most appointees have some political background and support of the party in office. Rarely is a Supreme Court Justice nominated from the state courts. While the pool of candidates is nation wide, the advantage goes to those who live and went to law schools in northeast part of the nation. Ivy League schools and the Washington D.C. appellate court are the true training grounds for Supreme Court Justices.
The above background is provided as Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement from the bench effective at the end of the Court’s term late this spring. Most Supreme Court judges leave office by death or by submitting a letter to the President advising the President of their resignation. That Justice Breyer chose to make his announcement at the White House with the President present on January 27 is interesting.
Breyer certainly knows the political situation his resignation entails. Breyer is a consistent member of the liberal wing of the Court who is deeply respected by all members of the Court for his intellect, friendship and desire to keep the Court unified.
• See the complete column in the Friday, Feb. 11, print edition of the Clinton Journal or now in the Journal E-Edition for subscribers.