Is Justice Antonin Scalia Frustrated Enough to Retire in 2001?
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Here's one more reason to care about the 2000 election: A majority of the nine-member Supreme Court could be selected by the next President. Democratic and Republican partisans already have been shouting about the need to elect a President of their own because three justices are known to be considering retirement: John Paul Stevens, 79; Chief Justice William Rehnquist, 75; and Sandra Day O'Connor, 69, in that order. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 66, who recently had surgery for colon cancer, also has to be added to the list, even though Ginsburg says that she's on the mend.

But the surprising chatter in Republican circles is that a fifth justice might bolt: Antonin Scalia, 63. On the court since 1986, Scalia has told associates that he sometimes feels underchallenged by the light workload. He also has grumped about having to write so many dissenting opinions; the court has only three unswerving conservatives, Scalia, Rehnquist, and Clarence Thomas. Friends of Scalia describe him as frustrated and say he has mused aloud that press accounts about which justices might retire after the next President takes office have been wrong to omit him. Scalia wouldn't retire before Bill Clinton left office for fear of being replaced by a liberal. But if Governor George W. Bush or some other conservative Republican won, Scalia could give up his seat. He declines to comment.

--J.H.B.