- United States Supreme Court
The United States Supreme Court is mad up of one Chief Justice and Six Justices:
- Chief Justice
John G. Roberts Jr.
- Current Justices (United States Supreme Court, 2007):
- Justice John Paul Stevens: Appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1975
- Justice Antonin Scalia: Appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1956
- Justice Anthony M. Kennedy: Appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1988
- Justice David Hackett Souter: Appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1990
- Justice Clarence Thomas: Appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1991
- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1993
- Georgia Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of the State of Georgia is made up of one Chief Justice and Six Justices.
Chief Justice (Georgia Supreme Court, 2007):
Leah Ward Sears: Appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court in 1992
- Current Justices (Georgia Supreme Court, 2007):
- Presiding Justice Carol W. Hunstein: Appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court in 1992
- Justice Robert Benham: Appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court in 1989
- Justice George H. Carley: Appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court in 1993
- Justice Hugh P. Thompson: Appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court in 1994
- Justice P. Harris Hines: Appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court in 1982
- Harold Melton: Appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court in 2005
Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia’s Living Constitution
Justice Clarence Thomas and Antonin Sacalia are firm believers in the theory of living constitution, which holds that constitutions need to be re-interpreted after several generations to withstand the test of time. People who look at the constitution in this manner are referred to as originaists (Scalia 2005). Observers however point that Justice Scalia is more vocal on this issue compared to Justice Thomas. Critics have recently described originalists views as equivalent to living in constitutional island that should be vacated (Khan, 2004). Scalia responds that constitution drafters were trying to address societal issues of their time, but they made a flexible document that future Americans could interpret in their own way (Diamnod, 2003). Justice Scalia gives the example of abortion, which he says, was not mentioned in the constitution because it was prohibited at that time. However, American constitution drafters made it possible for future generations to choose whether to abort or not.
Both Justices claim that having an originalist view of the constitution enables the Supreme Court to interpret the law with little influence from the media, especially opinion polls (Anderson 2002). That is, while dealing with court cases, they do not look for recent trend in the issues in question, but look on how the constitution addresses the issues, before searching for modern day’s interpretation. Their view of the constitution has won them many foes in both conservative circles that they relate to in most issues and liberal circles that disagree with in most cases.
But many Americans hold that their founding fathers’ original meaning of the constitution should be retained at all time. And true to their founders’ intentions, the constitution has survived for over two centuries with minimal amendments. Thus while originalists like Scalia and Thomas claim that there should be a modern interpretation of the constitution, most Americans, including several justices, hold than nation founders had their current society in mind when drafting the constitution in late eighteenth century and that holds true for many generations to come.
Differences in Make Ups of the US and Georgia Supreme Courts
The Federal Supreme Court is divided into twelve circuits, including the federal one situated in Washington DC. The Georgian court is however divided into forty-eight circuits. The entire Georgian Court however tends to lean to towards conservatism. Each circuit constitutes between one and eight counties and must have resident judge(s).
The Georgia Supreme Court Justices are usually confined at the circuits they were appointed from (Georgia Supreme Court, 2007), but those of the US Supreme Court are confined in the court’s Washington DC headquarters. While members of the Federal Supreme Court are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, those of the Georgian Court are nominated by the state’s governor and confirmed by the state senate. The state of Georgia only appoints to the Supreme Court only individuals practicing law in that state, whereas the Federal Supreme Court nominees could be sourced from anywhere in the country. US President therefore does not have power to nominate members of individual states supreme courts. The Federal Supreme Court has powers to “prescribe powers and procedures” for the nation while Georgian Supreme Court is not given such powers by the state senate.
The current gender make up of Georgian Supreme Court is two women and six men, whereas the Federal Supreme Court has one woman and six men (Totenberg, 2006). Political ideologies of the Federal Supreme Court currently stand at four conservatives and three liberal.
Anderson B. (2002). How the supreme court used three cases to inspire a ‘living constitution’, Web.
Diamond B. (2002). Justice Scalia’s comments on constitutional interpretation, Web.
Khan A. (2004). Justice Antonin Scalia: Living in another world, Web.
Scalia A. (2005). Constitutional interpretation the old fashioned way, Web.
Totenberg N. (2006). Supreme court more conservative, fragmented, Web.