Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the most reliable Leftist votes on the Supreme Court, made it clear this past week that she has no intention of retiring so that President Barack Obama can pick her successor:
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.
Ginsburg said she had fallen in the bathroom of her home in early May, sustaining the same injury she suffered last year near term’s end.
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.
These comments are similar to hints dropped by Ginsburg back in 2011, when she joked that she had “a way to go” to catch up with Justice Louis Brandeis, who retired when he was 83. That indicated that she would stay on the Court until at least 2016.
If Ginsburg did step down at this point, it wouldn’t upset the ideological structure of the Court, as President Barack Obama would certainly appoint another Leftist to succeed her. However, this point that will come into play during the presidential election in 2016. With four justices either already in or approaching their 80s by 2016 (Ginsburg, Kennedy, Scalia, and Breyer), the next president could have an opportunity to shape the balance of Supreme Court for years to come.
Should Hillary Clinton win the election, assuming she runs, the Court will almost assurdly be guaranteed a tilt to the Left. If a Republican wins — depending on who the nominee is, because, after all, Republican presidents have a mixed track record when it comes to these appointments (see John Paul Stevens, David Souter, and John Roberts) — we can assume that the Court will have a conservative shift.
While most voters won’t put this at the top of their concerns as they cast their ballots, it is consequence to consider should Republicans fail to win the presidency in 2016.