As part of his largely fruitless effort to gin up enthusiasm among his liberal base to vote to retain the Democratic Party’s Senate majority, President Barack Obama teased a group of liberal donors in mid-August with the prospect of appointing a new, young Supreme Court justice.
“We’re going to have Supreme Court appointments,” Obama said. Immediately, all eyes turned to the most senior liberal justice on the bench, Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
“All I can say is that I am still here and likely to remain for a while,” the Notorious RBG, as her supporters in the liberal blogosphere inexplicably call her, told Yahoo News in the wake of Obama’s comments.
Still, Obama’s suggestion prompted a wave of punditry in which center-left commentators wondered if the spry Ginsberg should consider an unceremonious resignation before Obama’s second term is up. Just in case he is succeeded by a Republican, of course.
The liberal justice has repeated her insistence that she had no intention of stepping down, but she never returned the friendly fire directed toward her by the head of her party… until now.
Speaking to a reporter with Elle Magazine, Ginsberg repeated her insistence that she has no intention of stepping down. More pointedly, she asked whether the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party truly believed Obama was capable of appointing a doctrinaire liberal like herself if she did.
“Who do you think President Obama could appoint at this very day, given the boundaries that we have?” Ginsberg asked rhetorically. “If I resign any time this year, he could not successfully appoint anyone I would like to see in the court.”
“[The Senate Republicans] took off the filibuster for lower federal court appointments, but it remains for this court,” she continued. “So anybody who thinks that if I step down, Obama could appoint someone like me, they’re misguided. As long as I can do the job full steam…. I think I’ll recognize when the time comes that I can’t any longer. But now I can.”
Ginsberg disguised her criticism of the president in a general condemnation of The System, which has supposedly so frustrated Obama’s ability to govern effectively. It is a flimsy camouflage.
She appears to suggest that the Senate would be unable to confirm a liberal justice to the Court’s bench, but Roll Call noted that the “nuclear option” invoked by Senate Democrats earlier this year would only require a little tweaking so that it could also apply to SCOTUS as well as federal appeals courts.
Nothing to stop Harry Reid from going nuclear again for SCOTUS, Ruth. All he needs is 50 votes & Joe Biden. http://t.co/6YG5sQWdFW
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) September 23, 2014
Ginsberg has served on the Supreme Court bench since 1993. She is only 81, and she may genuinely believe she can serve out a two-term Republican president. Like any sentient human, she likely takes exception to the desire on the left to shuffle her off the stage merely in order to make the best of the suboptimal conditions created by a president nearly 30 years her junior.
It is clear from her comments that not only is Ginsberg not leaving, she resents the effort to put her out to pasture. Who wouldn’t?