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Coming Off the Bench: Legal and Policy Implications of Proposals to Allow Retired Justices to Sit by Designation on the Supreme Court


Michael C. Dorf


Cornell Law School

Lisa McElroy


Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

February, 22 2011

Duke Law Journal, Vol. 61, No. 81, 2011
Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-07
Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law Research Paper No. 2011-A-07

Abstract:     
Senator Patrick Leahy recently introduced a bill that would override a New-Deal-era federal statute forbidding retired justices from serving by designation on the Supreme Court of the United States. The Leahy bill would authorize the Court to recall willing retired justices to substitute for recused justices. This Article uses the Leahy bill as a springboard for considering a number of important constitutional and policy questions, including: whether the possibility of 4-4 splits justifies substitution of a retired justice for an active one; whether permitting retired justices to substitute for recused justices would violate Article III’s requirement that there be “one Supreme Court;” and whether the ethical limitations on extra-judicial activities should be the same for active and retired judges and justices. In addition to relying on published material, the authors draw on information gleaned from their interview with retired Justice John Paul Stevens, who was the original source of the Leahy proposal.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 43

Keywords: Article III, retired, justice, recused, judges, Supreme Court, Constitution

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Date posted: February 22, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Dorf, Michael C. and McElroy, Lisa, Coming Off the Bench: Legal and Policy Implications of Proposals to Allow Retired Justices to Sit by Designation on the Supreme Court (February, 22 2011). Duke Law Journal, Vol. 61, No. 81, 2011; Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-07; Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law Research Paper No. 2011-A-07. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1767333

Contact Information

Michael C. Dorf (Contact Author)
Cornell Law School ( email )
524 College Ave
Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/faculty/bio.cfm?id=333
Lisa McElroy
Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law ( email )
3320 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.drexel.edu/law/lisa-mcelroy.asp
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