The current Justices of the Supreme Court are: Antonin Gregory Scalia of Virginia, appointed 1986; Anthony McLeod Kennedy of California, appointed 1988; David Hackett Souter of New Hampshire, appointed 1990; Clarence Thomas of Georgia, appointed 1991; Ruth Bader Ginsburg of New York, appointed 1993; Stephen Gerald Breyer of Massachusetts appointed 1994; John Glover Roberts, Jr. of Maryland, appointed 2005 and Samuel Anthony Alito, appointed 2006. With regards of Justices, the Constitution gives the President the power of nomination only, and their successive appointment is up the discretion of the Senate.
Interestingly enough, the Constitution does not mandate any qualifications or requirements for nomination or service as a Justice, which means that hypothetically, the President could choose to nominate anyone. However, because of the Senate confirmation process, it is practical for respected member of the legal community to be nominated for the position. This is crucial, since Justices are provided to hold their offices during good Behavior,” which effectively means that their appointment is a lifetime one barring conviction, death, impeachment, resignation or retirement.
The Supreme Court is effectively an appellate court, which means its jurisdictional authority is primarily centered on the review of decisions made by lower courts and/or tribunals. Cases can be brought before the Supreme Court via writ of certiorari or ‘cert’ from a court of appeal, or by expediting a case currently being reviewed by a lower appellate court (providing that the case is justified as of ‘imperative public importance’ or by appeal from district court decisions which have redistricted certain cases.
It also handles cases which have exhausted all state appeals and/or those that have requested instruction on how to decide the case as well as cases that have petitioned for mandamus or habeus corpus. The Supreme Court also has original jurisdiction “in all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party. ” When viewed within the context of which cases are chosen for hearing in the Supreme Court, its jurisdiction is effectively discretionary.
The Justices discuss the petitions and decide which ones will be granted cert. Prior to convening, the Chief Justice lists those petitions he believes merit significant discussion. Other Justices may also add to this list, and those not designated for discussion are automatically denied review. However, The Court or a Justice may later decide to re-list a case. Only four votes are necessary to grant cert to a case, and place it on their calendar as well as schedule a briefing in which the parties involved submit their briefs.
Despite the fact that the Justices of the Supreme Court are not officially affiliated with political parties, they can still be categorized regarding their legal outlook as conservatives, liberals or moderates. This is a natural extension of the fact that the Justices are unavoidably influenced by their various political temperaments. In the case of Judge Scalia, he is largely regarded as a conservative and as such, he has frequently practiced a largely textualist/originalist approach in the interpretation and implementation of law.
Such a conservative outlook is tempered by his belief in a ‘living constitution’ which must be modified or revised to dynamically reflect present mores and values. He stands in stark contrast with Judge Breyer, a more liberally minded individual who eschews textualism and originalism in favor of a pragmatic approach that gives greater emphasis to the purpose and consequences of legal text than its literality.
I believe that Justices should not be burdened with the responsibility of denying their own political temperament, permitting that they learn how to mediate themselves in relation to their peers within the Supreme Court. This is because I maintain that legislative progress is best accomplished through debate and discussion from contrasting ends of the political and legislative spectrum, through which the reconciliation of these differences yield effective decisions.