I’m sad to see Justice Stevens leave the Court for a variety of reasons that have been well documented by people smarter than me. I’m also excited to some change on the Court because the liberal wing needs a change of pace after it’s dismal performance thus far in OT09.
The biggest problem, at least for me, is that with any new Justice comes a slew of recusals. New justices that come from circuit courts have an even higher recusal rate than other justices. The biggest problem with recusals is not the impact they have on the Court, but the impact they have on my term statistics. You cannot imagine how frustrating it is to have 5-3, 6-2, 7-1, or 8-0 opinions.
Unfortunately for me, President Obama probably won’t take my concerns very seriously and is likely to appoint someone who will spark a slew of recusals. Tom Goldstein correctly noted that General Kagan would not spark as many recusals as some commentators have mentioned, but there are still at least 5 recusals from her alone. Judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland would likely recuse themselves from many cases coming from their circuits. Judge Wood’s circuit, the Seventh Circuit, is the circuit that contributes the second greatest number of cases to the Supreme Court’s docket while Judge Garland’s circuit, the DC circuit, contributes relatively few every year.