3 of 9 Justices Will Turn 80 by 2016 Election

November 1, 2012 - 3:18 PM
Supreme Court

Supreme Court of the United States (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Three of the nine justices on a U.S. Supreme Court that has decided many significant issues by 5-4 votes over the past decade will turn 80 years of age before the 2016 presidential election.

The three justices are Antonin Scalia, an anchor of the court’s conservative wing, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an anchor of the court’s liberal wing, and Anthony Kennedy, who is often the decisive swing vote in 5-4 opinions.

Life expectancy at birth in the United States is now 76.3 years for males and 81.1 years for females, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, a male who had already reached the age of 75 in 2011 has a life expectancy of another 11.0 years, according to the CDC, while a female who had reached 75 had a life expectancy of another 12.9 years.

Over past ten years, the nine-member court has decided numerous major issues by a margin of one vote.

In its 2002 opinion in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, for example, the court voted 5-4 that a school-choice program in Ohio that allowed students to redeem tuition vouchers at private schools, including those with a religious affiliation, did not violate the First Amendment prohibition on Congress enacting laws “respecting an establishment of religion.”  Anthony Kennedy voted with the majority in this case.

In its 2003 opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger, the court voted 5-4 that it did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment for the University of Michigan Law School to consider race as a factor in admitting students. Justice Ginsburg voted with the majority in this case.

In its 2005 opinion in McCreary County v. ACLU, the court voted 5-4 that counties in Kentucky could not display the Ten Commandments in court houses and public schools because it violated the First Amendment prohibition on Congress passing laws “respecting an establishment of religion.” Justice Ginsburg voted with the majority in this case.

In its 2005 opinion in Kelo v. New London, the court voted 5-4 that a city in Connecticut could take property away from one private owner and give it to another private owner in hopes of increasing the city’s tax revenues and that this did not violate the 5th Amendment which says government can take private property only for a “public use.” Justices Kennedy and Ginsburg bothe voted in the majority in this case.

In the 2006 opinion in Gonzalez v. Carhart, the court voted 5-4 that Congress could prohibit partial-birth abortion. Justice Kennedy voted with the majority in this case.

In its 2007 opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, the court voted 5-4 that individuals have a Second Amendment right to own guns even if they are not in a militia and that this right was violated by a D.C. law that prohibited a person from registering a handgun, or even having a gun in their home unless it was unloaded and triggerlocked. Justice Kennedy voted with the majority in this case.

In its 2010 opinion in Citizens United v. FEC, the court voted 5-4 that corporations have a First Amendment right to freedom of speech, including the right to mention the name of person who is a candidate for federal office. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in this case.

This year, in its opinion on the cases challenging the Obamacare law, the court voted 5-4 that the federal government could force individuals to buy health insurance. Justice Ginsburg voted with the 5-member majority on that issue.

Here, from eldest to youngest, are the nine Supreme Court justices:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Born: March 15, 1933

Age: 79

Age at next election: 83

Nominated by: Bill Clinton

Seated: 1993

 

Antonin Scalia

Born: March 11, 1936

Age: 76

Age at next election: 80

Nominated by: Ronald Reagan

Seated: 1986

 

Anthony Kennedy

Born: July 23, 1936

Age: 76

Age at next election: 80

Nominated by: Ronald Reagan

Seated: 1988

 

Stephen Breyer

Born: August 15, 1938

Age: 74

Age at next election: 78

Nominated by: Bill Clinton

Seated: 1994

 

Clarence Thomas

Born: June 23, 1948

Age: 64

Age at next election: 68

Nominated by: George H.W. Bush

Seated: 1991

 

Sam Alito

Born: April 1, 1950

Age: 62

Age at next election: 66

Nominated by: George W. Bush

Seated: 2006

 

Sonia Sotomayor

Born: June 25, 1954

Age: 58

Age at next election: 62

Nominated by: Barack Obama

Seated: 2009

 

John Roberts

Born: January 27, 1955

Age: 57

Age at next election: 61

Nominated by: George W. Bush

Seated: 2005

 

Elena Kagan

Born: April 28, 1960

Age: 52

Age at next election: 56

Nominated by: Barack Obama

Seated: 2010