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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 15, 2005 / 10 Av, 5765

When justices won't go

By Jonathan Turley

Turley
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It came as something of a shock at the beginning of the summer when Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist announced that he would not be resigning from the Supreme Court. He is suffering from thyroid cancer, has had a tracheotomy to help him breathe and will be 81 years old at the start of the new court term. The smart money was on retirement.

But Supreme Court justices answer only to themselves and G-d when it comes to stepping down from the bench. Once Congress hath joined a nominee and his office, only death or retirement can separate them.

There is no evidence to suggest that Rehnquist's poor health has affected his intellect, but the speculation over his absences last session and the course of his illness has reignited debate about a long-standing problem for the court: If a justice is significantly impaired, there is no way to remove him from the bench.

The Constitution provides for involuntarily removal of justices only by a process of impeachment. It requires a showing of serious wrongdoing but has nothing to do with mental competence. And yet since its founding, the court has struggled with incompetent, addicted and even insane justices.

In 1795, President Washington gave a recess appointment to John Rutledge of South Carolina to serve as chief justice. Washington was apparently unaware that Rutledge was mentally ill. Rutledge was described by one leading South Carolinian as prone to "mad frollicks," and South Carolina Sen. Ralph Izard said Rutledge was "frequently so much deranged, as to be in a great measure deprived of his senses."

According to Emory University law professor David Garrow, Rutledge tried repeatedly to drown himself in various rivers before finally resigning within a year of his appointment. (Notably, Rutledge's confirmed successor, Justice William Cushing, was himself described as "much impaired" mentally and ultimately declined the position.)

And there are more:

  • Henry Baldwin was confirmed in 1830, and within two years Daniel Webster warned of the "breaking out of Judge Baldwin's insanity." Baldwin missed the 1833 term, hospitalized for what was called "incurable lunacy." He remained on the court for 11 more years.

  • Justice Robert C. Grier's problems were widely known among politicians and reporters in the mid-1800s. Historian David Atkinson notes that Grier could "scarcely function" due to physical and mental decline. Yet, in 1869 — just days before Grier agreed to leave the bench under pressure from his colleagues — Chief Justice Salmon Chase insisted on using the incompetent justice as the decisive vote to strike down a major federal law, the Legal Tender Act.

  • In 1880, Justice Nathan Clifford was described by one of his colleagues as a "babbling idiot." Newspapers called his seat "practically vacant" due to this illness. He refused to resign and died on the court.

  • Serving with Clifford was Ward Hunt, who was left speechless and paralyzed after an illness. Yet he too refused to resign because he lacked the 10 years of service needed to earn a pension. Congress passed a law granting him a special pension to get him off the court.
Age or term limits are one obvious possible reform.

In a recent Fox News poll, two-thirds of Americans said they believe that there should be a mandatory retirement age for justices. Many justices have themselves called for an age limitation, including Justice Owen J. Roberts, who even complained to Congress that "superannuated" justices were unfit but "clung" to their offices.

Age, however, is a crude measure for mental competence. Baldwin was only 52 when signs of instability were detected, and Cushing was 63. And age may also have little to do with competency allegations.

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By the time Justice Frank Murphy, a former U.S. attorney general who joined the court in 1940, was 57, he was addicted to drugs, including the painkiller Demerol. According to his biographer, Sidney Fine, Murphy bought illegal drugs twice a day when he was on the court. In 1981, Rehnquist's staff admitted that he had developed a "physiological dependence" on a painkiller. Like Murphy, Rehnquist overcame his dependence and questions of competence.

There are ways to address such problems and still protect the justices' independence.

We could amend the Constitution to allow for an automatic "reappointment vote" by the Senate. Physical or mental competence would be the only issues under consideration and disqualification would require a super-majority. Or we could create a hearing process, with independent judicial review of disability allegations.

As modern medicine extends the lives of everyone, including Supreme Court justices, these controversies are likely to grow. We must clearly proceed with caution in amending the Constitution and in reforming one of our most cherished institutions. The greater danger, however, would be to allow our high respect for the court as an institution to blind us to its flaws.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Jonathan Turley is a law professor at George Washington University. Click here to visit his website. Comment by clicking here.

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