Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made clear once again that she has no intention of leaving the court to allow President Obama to nominate her replacement. In an interview with the New York Times, the 80 year old justice said she has no plans to retire until her health forces her to do so.
On Friday, she said repeatedly that the identity of the president who would appoint her replacement did not figure in her retirement planning.
“There will be a president after this one, and I’m hopeful that that president will be a fine president,” she said.
Were Mr. Obama to name Justice Ginsburg’s successor, it would presumably be a one-for-one liberal swap that would not alter the court’s ideological balance. But if a Republican president is elected in 2016 and gets to name her successor, the court would be fundamentally reshaped.
As I’ve said before, I admire her toughness and her commitment to staying on the court. And there’s no doubt that she’s as mentally sharp and as combative as she’s ever been. But this is taking a hell of a risk. If she stays through 2016, she’ll be 83. If a Republican is elected president in 2016, it significantly increases the chance that her replacement will be a conservative. And the result of that would be incredibly damaging and long-lasting.