In the eyes of many on the left, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a liberal icon who can do no wrong. There is, however, one thing that Ginsburg didn’t do that has caused some consternation among progressives, namely, retire from the court during former President Barack Obama’s tenure so he could nominate a liberal to take her place.
But in response to those grumblings, Ginsburg recently fired back with a defiant two-fold response, asking her critics which left-leaning candidate they believe could have possibly been confirmed by a Republican-majority Senate, and which potential replacement they think would be more representative of progressive viewpoints than herself.
Ginsburg defiant in face of critics
CNBC reported that Ginsburg’s remarks came during an interview with NPR’s Nina Totenberg at an event in New York City on Wednesday.
“When that suggestion is made, I ask the question: Who do you think the president could nominate that could get through the Republican Senate? Who you would prefer on the court than me?” the 86-year-old Ginsburg reportedly said.
In one sense, Justice Ginsburg is correct that President Obama would have had a difficult time successfully replacing her on the court with a left-leaning progressive, as evidenced by what occurred in 2016 when the Republican Senate refused to even consider Obama-nominated Judge Merrick Garland as a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Hindsight is 20/20
USA Today reported that one of those on the left who had called for Ginsburg to step down during Obama’s tenure in office was noted law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, now the dean of the University of California-Berkeley School of Law.
Chemerinsky advised in a Los Angeles Times op-ed back in March 2014 that, while Democrats still held a majority in the Senate, Ginsburg “should retire from the Supreme Court after the completion of the current term in June.”
“Only by resigning this summer can she ensure that a Democratic president will be able to choose a successor who shares her views and values.” he added.
His prescient warning was ignored, however, and Republicans claimed the majority in the Senate in the 2014 midterm election, ending any opportunity for Obama to push through a progressive Supreme Court nominee with little to no challenge from Republicans.
No plans to retire
Ginsburg has shown no indications that she plans to step aside and retire from the court any time soon, despite recent health scares.
Indeed, she has made it clear that she hopes to outlast President Trump by remaining on the bench until a Democrat resides in the White House, whether that happens in roughly 18 months or in another five years.
Whether the 86-year-old, four-time cancer survivor can work that long is a separate question, and when the day comes that she is no longer capable of serving on the court, there will be an ideological battle over her replacement the likes of which this nation has never seen, particularly if Trump still occupies the Oval Office.