On 26 June, 1987, Justice Lewis Powell announced his retirement from the Supreme Court of the United States. Justice Powell, was known as a moderate Justice and was considered to be a ‘swing vote’. With his retirement, a heated debate over the make-up and ‘balance’ of the court took up almost the next eight months of political discourse until the confirmation of Justice Anthony Kennedy to the seat on 3 February, 1988. This collection of documents can be used to create a discussion in your classroom of just how a Supreme Court Justice should be judged. Should the primary concern be about the nominees’ political ideology or should their past rulings carry more weight? Should the idea of ‘balance’ come into play? What should the Senate focus on when conducting their ‘advise and consent’ role? Ultimately, how do you judge a judge?
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