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Aug 28 2013

Ginsburg Still Adamant About Staying on Court

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.

15 comments

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  1. 1
    Artor

    Perhaps she’s hoping for the chance of a liberal president, instead of Obama?

  2. 2
    Pierce R. Butler

    If Ginsburg left now, Obama would probably nominate Larry Summers for her seat.

  3. 3
    Gregory in Seattle

    @Artor #1 – That was my first thought, too: Obama keeps proving time and again that Democrat =/= liberal. Even so, it is a terrible risk, as “not liberal” would still be better than “stark raving loony conservative.”

  4. 4
    Abdul Alhazred

    I think I can pin it down even better:
    She wants Hillary to nominate her successor (and most likely they already have someone in mind).

  5. 5
    rabbitscribe

    She’s a judge, not a politician. The stance is thoroughly admirable.

  6. 6
    Ed Brayton

    For all of the other valid criticisms of Obama, his nominations for the court have been solidly liberal.

  7. 7
    gshelley

    Kagan has been surprisingly liberal given that she was Obama’s solicitor general and that if she had not been on the Supreme court would have presumably argued against some of the votes she has taken.

  8. 8
    tomh

    @ #6
    For all of the other valid criticisms of Obama, his nominations for the court have been solidly liberal.

    Absolutely right. If McCain had won things would look very different now.

  9. 9
    Area Man

    I think I can pin it down even better:
    She wants Hillary to nominate her successor (and most likely they already have someone in mind).

    What I was thinking. 2016 is a long way off, but Republican odds of winning for now seem slim. Polls, for what they’re worth, show that Hilliary would destroy every Republican out there, and the Republicans keep making things worse by floating absolute loonies as their favored candidates.

    Ginsberg may think that the odds of a Hilliary loss are lower than the odds of Obama picking an unfavorable replacement today.

  10. 10
    tomh

    I have more faith in an Obama pick than a Hillary pick.

  11. 11
    meg

    Would an Obama pick make it through though? The repubs are blocking everything he does it seems

  12. 12
    Michael Heath

    From the article:

    “I don’t see that my majority opinions are going to be undone,” she said. “I do hope that some of my dissents will one day be the law.”

    This sentiment is an incoherent position to take relative to J. Ginsburg’s plans to stay as long as possible. At least in the short and intermediate term.

    It’s also an arrogant and selfish position to take. I appreciate that Ginsburg greatly values the opportunity to write opinions on the Supreme Court, but her real importance has long been that she’s a consistently liberal vote, whereas the court only requires one more conservative vote to decimate not just Ginsburg’s majority opinions, but the entire history of the country’s liberal precedents.

    With the polarization on the court, we don’t need eloquent writers so much as justices who are dependable voters. I wish that weren’t true, that instead all the justices were smart, open-minded, well-read, and loyally applied the U.S. Constitution. But we’re a vast distance from that utopia. The math is simple where Ginsburg risks much for selfish reasons; with no upside for her staying on. She needs to go, that’s what the country now requires of her if you truly want a court who honors the Constitution.

  13. 13
    TxSkeptic

    The problem is even if Ginsburg retired and was lib swapped, it’s still no better, just no worse

    Has anyone reminded Thomas how Deee-licious those fat-back sandwiches are?

  14. 14
    cry4turtles

    Maybe she’ll live to be 120. That would be awesome!

  15. 15
    Michael Heath

    TxSkeptic writes:

    The problem is even if Ginsburg retired and was lib swapped, it’s still no better, just no worse

    No, it’s a hell of a lot better. That’s because Justice Ginsburg’s retirement better assures that the spot she occupies will be a liberal vote for decades to come. Her arrogance and selfishness risks that spot going to a conservative.

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