Re "Much depends on Ginsburg," Opinion, March 16
As a lawyer and an Irvine resident, I respect and commend Erwin Chemerinsky for what he's done as the founding dean of the UC Irvine Law School. But he's wrong to say that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should resign soon so President Obama can put someone like her on the court.
No one currently on the court is as intelligent and respectful of the Constitution as Ginsburg. Her opinions and dissents are based on the law and articulated so as to make her a stalwart defender of the rights of all people, not just those with money and power.
More important, there has to be great concern over the president's judgment when it comes to selecting a nominee to the bench. My fear is that he will do what he tries all too often to do and attempt to please everyone instead of doing something right.
Pushing through a nominee may be much more difficult if the Republicans take control of the Senate after November's election, but I would rather keep a great justice on the bench and take our chances later on with Hillary Rodham Clinton as president.
I believe that one big reason Ginsburg continues on the bench is vanity. Every point Chemerinsky raises about the need for her to retire is valid, but he should cast his net a bit wider.
Of course, Justice Stephen G. Breyer (only five years younger than Ginsburg) should also step down. His retirement deserves much more consideration than the throwaway remark Chemerinsky gave it.
Let's splash some cold water in their faces with this name: Thurgood Marshall. Marshall couldn't read the tea leaves accurately enough to climb through the narrow window Jimmy Carter's presidency offered him to retire. The result was Clarence Thomas.
In fairness, these are just a few examples of an entrenched judiciary. Each level of the federal courts should have lengthy but finite terms for judges that are staggered so each four-year presidential administration appoints the same number. That would eliminate this bleak chess game.
I may be naive, but I always had the impression that Supreme Court justices should rule based on constitutionality and not on politics. Following that premise, it should make no difference whether a Democrat or a Republican president nominates a justice.
Calling on Ginsburg to step down before the fall election to ensure that a like-minded liberal would replace her is a total injustice in itself. Let's nominate the best-qualified person to uphold the Constitution, not one who will carry on a liberal legacy.