Liberals to Justice Ginsburg: Hurry up and retire

What’s odd about the demands for Ginsburg to take one for the team–really, to sacrifice the remainder of her professional life for the team–is that as crassly political as the people making them are in the view of the law, they don’t seem to have given much thought to the politics of confirming a Ginsburg successor.

The most obvious problem is that although Democrats hold a majority of seats in the Senate, it is not a big enough majority to control the body. If Ginsburg were to retire a year hence, Republicans could easily prevent the confirmation of an Obama-nominated replacement in the four months before the election by using the Democrat-pioneered tactics of waging a smear campaign and filibustering to prevent a confirmation vote. With 47 Republican senators, they could lose as many as 6 and still sustain a filibuster.

Particularly if Ginsburg made her retirement conditional on the appointment of a successor, as Justice Sandra Day O’Connor did in 2005, GOP senators could even make a high-minded argument: that we can wait a few months and give the voters the chance to weigh in before installing someone whose influence will last for decades.