One of those purportedly departing justices was a familiar name. On May 2, 2001 the Chicago Tribune wrote, “Following on the heels of news that Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor may retire this summer…”
Justice O’Connor could be forgiven if she decided to paraphrase Mark Twain: “Rumors of my impending resignation are exaggerated, and have been for years.”
So the pattern is well established. Each spring, major newspapers will pump out stories saying at least one of the justices plans to go. They’ll note that the justices have indicated they “might like to retire,” without ever pointing out when, where and how the justice said that. If asked, wouldn’t all of us say we’d “like to retire?” Some day, at least.
But in fact, the members of this Supreme Court have been together since 1994, making it the longest serving nine-member court ever. They clearly enjoy their jobs, their proximity to power, and the authority they wield.
Yes, one of these years one of the justices will leave.
Rest assured that retirement will have been preceded by a series of newspaper stories predicting it. The pundits will pat themselves on the back for accurately predicting it.
But in order to congratulate themselves, they’ll have to ignore their years worth of incorrect predictions. All they’ll have really proven is that if you say the same thing year after year, you’ll eventually be correct.