The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Friday, October 07, 2005

Actuarial Work

Here are the ages of the current justices:

John Paul Stevens, 85 (born April 20, 1920)
Sandra Day O'Connor, 75 (March 26, 1930)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 72 (March 15, 1933)
Antonin Scalia, 69 (March 11, 1936)
Anthony Kennedy, 69 (July 23, 1936)
Stephen Breyer, 67 (Aug. 15, 1938)
David Souter, 66 (Sept. 17, 1939)
Clarence Thomas, 57 (June 23, 1948)
John Roberts, 50 (Jan. 27, 1955)
Using these life tables, and excluding O'Connor and Roberts, we find an expectation among the remaining seven justices of 0.25 deaths in the coming year and 0.75 over three years. Excluding Justices Scalia and Thomas, these figures are 0.22 and 0.63. And who knows, one of these old men might even loosen his vulture-like grip on power, and stun us all by retiring. It is reasonably improbable that this is President Bush's last Supreme Court nomination; and the next one, likely replacing a liberal justice, perhaps with only months remaining in President Bush's term, will call out all the artillery either side possesses.