Ginsburg not planning on leaving SCOTUS any time soon

posted at 1:01 pm on July 6, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

Reuters landed the inside track on a question which has been quietly simmering on the back burner since the unpleasant events of last November. Given four more years in office, and given the ages and states of health of various members of the Supreme Court, would Barack Obama be making any more appointments to the bench? In an interview with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the answer to at least one of the seats under discussion would seem to be no.

At age 80, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, leader of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing, says she is in excellent health, even lifting weights despite having cracked a pair of ribs again, and plans to stay several more years on the bench.

In a Reuters interview late on Tuesday, she vowed to resist any pressure to retire that might come from liberals who want to ensure that Democratic President Barack Obama can pick her successor before the November 2016 presidential election…

The justice, who survived two serious bouts with cancer, in 1999 and 2009, is keeping up a typically busy summer of travel, at home and abroad, beginning next week with a trip to Paris. Ginsburg said she was back to her usual weight-lifting routine and recently had good results from a bone density scan.

Later in the article, she repeats a previous goal of matching the 23 year tenure of Justice Louis Brandeis, which would take her to April of 2016. (And that close to a presidential election, it seems highly unlikely that the confirmation of a replacement could be managed the same year.) But she also went further, noting that Justice Stevens stayed until the age of 90, giving her a full decade to shoot for.

These sorts of ugly considerations have been made public before, and as Dr. James Joyner notes, they rather deflate the image of the non-political high court assured by lifetime appointments.

If I had my druthers, Justices would serve 20-year terms rather than indefinitely. A long, fixed term would both assure for an independent judiciary and solve several problems with lifetime appointments. It’s absurd to have 90-year-olds deciding the most important public policy issues and makes an already undemocratic institution even moreso to have people appointed by Gerald Ford still on the bench decades later; we had both until John Paul Stevens finally retired in 2010. Further, we’d end the incentive for presidents to appoint too-young Justices in order to extend their legacies and reduce the sort of pressures Ginsburg is now facing.

The twenty year term idea is intriguing, but absent a change to Article III, it would likely be problematic to implement. But the “undemocratic nature” of the institution, as Joyner calls it, does seem to come to light more and more as time goes on. Rather than completely independent agents, free from the constraints of election pressure, we wind up with the the most ideological candidates which presidents think they can get through. And, as James also notes, there is pressure to put in increasingly young ones so they can place the longest lasting stamp on the bench possible.

So in a way, Ginsburg is to be credited for shrugging off the concerned “liberal leaders” pushing her to step down while Obama is still in office. Of course, if she stepped down now, the end effect wouldn’t be much, at least in the short term. Obama would replace her with someone of like ideology and the balance of power wouldn’t really shift much, even though it would cement one block in place for much longer. The real fireworks would be if we lost one of the four conservative justices for any reason. The fight over that seat would be epic to say the least.


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Hot!!

CW on July 6, 2013 at 1:03 PM

Good for you Ruth!

slickwillie2001 on July 6, 2013 at 1:03 PM

…and if she should die, Scalia and Alito will prop her up in her office and crank up the A/C. Nothing to see here, move along…

slickwillie2001 on July 6, 2013 at 1:05 PM

The one ring is not yet hers.

abobo on July 6, 2013 at 1:05 PM

With any luck, she’ll be replaced by president Ted Cruz.

Rebar on July 6, 2013 at 1:06 PM

…and if she should die, Scalia and Alito will prop her up in her office and crank up the A/C. Nothing to see here, move along…

slickwillie2001 on July 6, 2013 at 1:05 PM

Weekend at Ruthies.

CW on July 6, 2013 at 1:08 PM

I love Hot Air because it runs STUPID SCRIPTS that CRASH FIREFOX.

THANKS SALEM.

John the Libertarian on July 6, 2013 at 1:11 PM

I’ve been praying that all of the SC justices have good, healthy lives (with no immediate intent to retire) while there’s a progressive in office.

Othniel on July 6, 2013 at 1:11 PM

Looks like Barry isn’t going to have his chance to shift the Court or lock in a solid 4 liberal minority. He already POed Kennedy enough with his Citizens United lecture at the SOTU to the point where Kennedy vowed never to retire during Barry’s reign.

blammm on July 6, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Good. Then she’ll drop dead durin Palin’s 8 years.

renalin on July 6, 2013 at 1:14 PM

With any luck, she’ll be replaced by president Ted Cruz.

Rebar on July 6, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Absolutely. Hang in there Ruth! Just 3 1/2 years more babe. Just keep drink’n that Ovaltine. Then, if you’re still fog’n the mirror, you’ll be invited by the American people to seek opportunities elsewhere. You know, in places with a constitution you like better. You can do it. You dumb*ss marxist moron.

onomo on July 6, 2013 at 1:14 PM

If she passes on, I’m sure Obama will be Ruthless.

birdwatcher on July 6, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Every time I see that photo the phrase “and your little dog, too” flashes through my mind.

PJ Emeritus on July 6, 2013 at 1:22 PM

It’s absurd to have 90-year-olds deciding the most important public policy issues and makes an already undemocratic institution even moreso…

What is absurd is the notion that it should be democratic, or that democracy is a panacea. I do agree that the politicization of the judiciary is a problem, but democracy can only make that worse. What we need are more checks and balances to promote non-political appointments. That is very difficult to achieve when respect for the rule of law is declining in the populace.

So the root cause is cultural, not blindly implementing more democracy. Once upon a time (maybe only in fantasyland) people would disapprove of partisan appointments, and expect non-partiality from their public servants. Increasingly they are servants of themselves only.

Fenris on July 6, 2013 at 1:22 PM

Is it possible that even some liberals do not want another obama appointee on the Court?

rjh on July 6, 2013 at 1:23 PM

The Supreme Court was never supposed to be a “democratic” institution. It is a “republican” institution. Which is also why I don’t agree with term limits for Supreme Court justices (although I could be persuaded of the virtues of a new law effectively creating a version of Section 4 of Amendment 25 pertaining to SC Justices). The Justices are supposed to represent a supreme institutional wisdom. Justices’ longevity on the court contributes to the authority of SC decisions in the public’s mind.

Robert_Paulson on July 6, 2013 at 1:25 PM

…and if she should die, Scalia and Alito will prop her up in her office and crank up the A/C.
slickwillie2001 on July 6, 2013 at 1:05 PM

Lol. Hope so, anyway.

petefrt on July 6, 2013 at 1:27 PM

I hope every liberal Justice remains till after Obama, and a Conservative is in the White House. Then they can all retire.

Guaranteed jobs, for people needed to clean up the mess from all those liberal heads that exploded.

Liam on July 6, 2013 at 1:27 PM

May I be excused for believing any random seven people out of the phone book would make more common sense decisions than this Supreme Court?

birdwatcher on July 6, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Yikes! That old bird is gonna outlive me!!

:)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on July 6, 2013 at 1:36 PM

I personally pray for the health of all the justices. Obama has done enough damage to the country without leaving a court the will do further damage.

bflat879 on July 6, 2013 at 1:36 PM

John the Libertarian on July 6, 2013 at 1:11 PM

There seems to be issues with Firefox and Flash. I’ve been having similar problems, and not with just Hotair.

Jeff Weimer on July 6, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Talk about a bitter clinger.

Flange on July 6, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Never thought I’d say this, “may you have excellent health, Ruth, for the next four years.”

stenwin77 on July 6, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Is it possible that even some liberals do not want another obama appointee on the Court?

rjh on July 6, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Not a chance.

stenwin77 on July 6, 2013 at 1:49 PM

What difference does it make with Obama as president?

MaiDee on July 6, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Ginsburg is easily the weakest Justice intellectually and does not have a strong personality. The last thing I want is for Obama to be able to replace her with a dynamic personality and strong legal mind. Let her keep sleeping through oral arguments and hanging around till Barky is gone.

tommyboy on July 6, 2013 at 2:02 PM

May I be excused for believing any random seven people out of the phone book would make more common sense decisions than this Supreme Court?

birdwatcher on July 6, 2013 at 1:31 PM

You’re excused.

But what about the other two SCOTUS seats? Does the president get to nominate those two, then?

BuckeyeSam on July 6, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Perhaps she’d prefer working in South Africa, whose constitution she prefers over ours.

unclesmrgol on July 6, 2013 at 2:13 PM

But what about the other two SCOTUS seats? Does the president get to nominate those two, then?

BuckeyeSam on July 6, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Nice catch.

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on July 6, 2013 at 2:23 PM

If she passes on, I’m sure Obama will be Ruthless.

birdwatcher on July 6, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Heh. Good line.

davidk on July 6, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Rather than completely independent agents, free from the constraints of election pressure, we wind up with the the most ideological candidates which presidents think they can get through. And, as James also notes, there is pressure to put in increasingly young ones so they can place the longest lasting stamp on the bench possible.

And today is different from the 1800′s, the 1850′s, the 1870′s, the 1930′s and the 1980′s – how?

ss396 on July 6, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Ginsburg not planning on leaving SCOTUS any time soon

Only because there don’t appear to be any openings for her on the superior South African Supreme Court …

ShainS on July 6, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Lifetime appointments were thought of back in a day when judges tended to follow the law and not write it on the fly.

ButterflyDragon on July 6, 2013 at 3:36 PM

William O. Douglas stayed until he was 96 and drooling and senile, but there was no way to remove him. The liberals loved him anyway.

FirelandsO3 on July 6, 2013 at 3:58 PM

That’s what she thinks. Agents of the Devil (Liberals) always have their wai.

RdLake on July 6, 2013 at 5:14 PM

Let’s hope, and pray, that God has the same “plan”.

Cleombrotus on July 6, 2013 at 5:17 PM

William O. Douglas stayed until he was 96 and drooling and senile, but there was no way to remove him. The liberals loved him anyway.

FirelandsO3 on July 6, 2013 at 3:58 PM

Ummm…a little research would have shown he was on the court until he was 77, and I can appreciate that you didn’t like his opinions, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t senile and drooling at the end.

asc85 on July 6, 2013 at 5:27 PM

So I got the age wrong, but the rest is correct.

FirelandsO3 on July 6, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Of the very few that survive cancer of the pancreas, God gave her the nod…hummmm….but yup, with 3.5 yrs left, Ruthy eat your veggies….

hillsoftx on July 6, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Careful Ruthie. When Barky boasts about the need to use drones against Americans it could be his method for fast-tracking a third stooge to the USSC to accompany freakish, outright shills Kagan and Sotomayor (and occasionally Benedict Roberts.)

viking01 on July 6, 2013 at 6:22 PM

I saw the picture and thought it was Rosa Klebb.

rrpjr on July 6, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Hmmm. Colon and pancreatic carcinomas? Justice Ginsberg may think she’s not leaving anytime soon, but that is not the way to bet. Both of these cancers are nasty, with pancreatic being one of the worst.

Even if Obama replaces her, it’s not going to change the liberal leanings of her block. I don’t see the balance of power changing whether she goes or stays.

In any event, she’s very lucky to be alive given her medical history.

corbeck on July 6, 2013 at 6:57 PM

The real fireworks would be if we lost one of the four conservative justices for any reason.

Thomas . . . Scalia . . . sort of Alito . . . there’s a fourth? How did I not hear about that? What’s their name??

SoRight on July 6, 2013 at 7:38 PM

It’s a relief she’s not going anywhere. Better the liberal you know than one you don’t.

virgo on July 6, 2013 at 8:13 PM

Hang in there, Ruthie!!!

bluegill on July 7, 2013 at 5:34 AM

Ummm…a little research would have shown he was on the court until he was 77, and I can appreciate that you didn’t like his opinions, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t senile and drooling at the end.
asc85 on July 6, 2013 at 5:27 PM

I don’t know about “drooling” but after his stroke he had to be wheeled into the conference room on an hospital bed to “participate” in Justice deliberations on pending cases. Lots of controversy at the time over his refusal to retire.

tommyboy on July 7, 2013 at 8:42 AM

I get the impression that someone is not impressed with Obama at all.

SPQR on July 7, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Ginsburg not planning on leaving SCOTUS any time soon

Where else can she take a mid-day snooze at work on the bench and then wake up and vote with a hard left liberal bias just as if she’d been awake, listening and understanding?

RJL on July 7, 2013 at 8:28 PM