Perfect Scalia Solution: Put O’Connor Back on Court

Two political science professors make the case
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2016 10:29 AM CST
Perfect Scalia Solution: Put O’Connor Back on Court
Former justice Sandra Day O'Connor.   (Photo by Kevin Wolf/Invision for Seneca Women/AP Images)

There may be a lively debate about whether President Obama should be able to fill Antonin Scalia's seat on the Supreme Court, but one person with a unique perspective thinks it's a no-brainer: "I think we need somebody there now to do the job, and let's get on with it," retired justice Sandra Day O'Connor tells Fox 10 Phoenix. Two political science professors couldn't agree more, and they float an intriguing idea in a Baltimore Sun op-ed: Obama should put O'Connor herself back on the court, write William Blake and Hans Hacker. They note the historical precedence of Charles Evans Hughes leaving the court in 1916 and rejoining it in 1930, and they run through a number of reasons why an O'Connor pick makes sense—starting with her age of 85.

That might normally rule out a nominee, but in this unique situation, it's an asset. "She is more than capable of serving on the court for a year or two, after which she could retire and the new president could use his or her political mandate to appoint a younger justice." Obama has little practical chance of moving the court much to the left anyway, while Republicans could hardly object to a Reagan appointee returning. What's more, O'Connor's "jurisprudence doesn't fit neatly into an ideological box," so both sides could live with it. A court mired in 4-4 decisions is awful for the country, and picking O'Connor is a solid compromise to keep it functioning in the short term, write the professors. "The one thing this election season has taught us is that the traditional political playbook no longer works," they write. "The same logic applies to this Supreme Court vacancy." Click for their full column. (More Sandra Day O'Connor stories.)

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