Are the Long Knives Out for Justice Sotomayor From the Left?

Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool

Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the oldest Democrat-appointed justice on the court. It is starting to look like Democrats are ready to give her the heave-ho to give President Biden another shot at putting a Democrat on the Supreme Court.


It sounds like Democrats are none too confident that their guy Joe will win re-election in November. So, to head off another Trump nominee to the majority conservative court, Democrats hope that Sotomayor will take the hint and retire. 

Will it happen? Nah. It's a lifetime appointment. Why should she give that up at the age of 69? She's young compared to other Democrats in top leadership positions in our government, including Joe Biden. But in the meantime, there will be stories that place doubt on her ability to continue serving on the court. 

Take the story that was published at HuffPost on Friday. A new report states that Justice Sotomayor is the only justice to request a medic to accompany her when she travels. 

In newly released U.S. Marshals Service records, questions are being raised about her long-term fitness on the court. A left-leaning court watchdog, Fix the Court, requested information about security for current and former Supreme Court justices. 

Sotomayor is a Type 1 diabetic who gives herself multiple insulin shots every day

In February 2018, a medic from Grand Junction, Colorado, accompanied Sotomayor on a trip she made to southern Florida, according to the records.

On a three-day book tour with stops in Illinois and Tennessee in October of that year, the Marshals Service incurred costs for “baggage (medic),” which could refer to medical personnel or be a more benign reference to medical equipment in the justice’s luggage. Sotomayor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 7 and gives herself insulin shots multiple times a day.

Both trips occurred after a January 2018 episode in which paramedics treated her at her home for low blood sugar.

In 2021 and 2022, Sotomayor made at least four trips — to Florida, New York and Puerto Rico — in which the Marshals Service mentioned baggage containing “medical gear,” or redacted a description of “baggage/medical supplies.”


It looks like she asks to travel with a medic as a precautionary measure. Her last noted incident was in 2018 when paramedics were called to her home. There isn't anything being reported that she needed medical attention while traveling.

She is well-liked by Democrats for her written dissents but there is concern that the Democrats will be caught with a Ruth Bader Ginsburg situation. She didn't succumb to the pressure Democrats put on her to retire during the Obama administration. So, when she died in September 2020 with Trump in office, Trump seized the opportunity and put Amy Coney Barrett on the court, cementing a conservative majority. There are rumblings now that Democrats don't want to be in the same boat again down the line.

Democrats are bracing for losing their majority rule in the Senate in November. The atmosphere is looking good for a Republican takeover. The Senate votes on Supreme Court nominations. 

Gabe Roth, the executive director of Fix the Court, said it is fair to ask questions. He noted in August that Sotomayor has spent 15 years on the court.

“Fifteen years was the average tenure for ... [U.S.] justices for the first 150 years of our republic,” Roth said. “In the last 55 years, that number has now doubled. But the idea that Justice Sotomayor might be considering staying on the court until, I don’t know, Naomi Biden [the president’s granddaughter] is president, is probably not something a lot of folks would want to see.”

Unfortunately for the eager Mr. Roth, most Democrats are not concerned about Sotomayor. Some talking heads have called for her to retire but the majority of the party are not doing that. A progressive leftist group, Demand Justice used a billboard truck to circle the Supreme Court building demanding that Justice Breyer retire. He was in his early 80s, though. He did retire, which gave Biden the chance to put a justice on the court. As usual, he checked the identity boxes above everything else and put Ketanji Brown Jackson on the court in February 2022. The head of Demand Justice, Brian Fallon, last year said Sotomayor's age is not at a "crisis-level" situation. Fallon is now working in the White House.  


Democrats don't want the optics of pressuring the first Latina justice to retire. That would be especially awkward this election cycle with Biden losing ground with Hispanic voters. 

Justices Roberts and Thomas have not relied on the U.S. Marshals Service for personal security while vacationing or making speaking appearances. Sotomayor is the only justice requiring security agents to wear personal protective equipment, according to the records. Due to her pre-existing condition, Sotomayor took precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was well known. She skipped in-person oral arguments until early 2022 and she was the only justice to show up wearing a mask when she returned to working at the court.

In January, Sotomayor spoke to law students at the University of California, Berkley School of Law. She told them she was frustrated working with a conservative Supreme Court and tired but she said she couldn't stop "fighting the good fight." 

She told her audience at Berkeley, “I have to get up in the morning and keep fighting. I happen, when I dissent, to think the others got it wrong. And they often do. What choice do you have but to fight the good fight? You can’t throw up your hands and walk away. And that’s not a choice. That’s an abdication. That’s giving up." 

Who knew it was Sotomayor and only Sotomayor who could save democracy? Isn't that what Joe Biden says about himself? Don't look for her to go anywhere for a long time unless her health fails. So far, that doesn't seem to be the case. I do enjoy the entertainment value of Democrats turning on their own, though. Most of all it's interesting to see Democrats admit that Biden's re-election may not happen. 


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