There is no question that in the eyes of most Democrats, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg can do no wrong. There is, however, one issue where she faces criticism from the left: her decision to not retire during former President Barack Obama’s tenure.
If Ginsburg had, critics say, Obama could have replaced her with another left-leaning juror — preventing Donald Trump from doing so if she steps down during his presidency. But at a recent event in New York City, Ginsburg defiantly countered that argument with a dose of blunt political reality, asking critics: “Who would you prefer on the court than me?”
CNBC reported that Ginsburg joined NPR reporter Nina Totenberg for an interview at an event in New York City on Wednesday where that common critique of her remaining on the court came up for discussion.
Ginsburg would have none of it, though, saying: “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 would you prefer on the court than me?”
Justice Ginsburg is not wrong in that line of thinking. Consider the case of Judge Merrick Garland, who Obama nominated in 2016 to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia — a nomination that was never even granted hearings in the confirmation process by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, much less given an up or down vote on the Senate floor.
Furthermore, there remains the strong possibility that Ginsburg thought Hillary Clinton would win the White House in 2016, in which case Ginsburg could retire and be replaced by the first woman president, a truly historic achievement for the feminist jurist.
Critics focus on Trump
In truth, the criticism over Ginsburg’s decision to remain on the court didn’t really become an issue until President Trump took office and the anti-Trump #Resistance took form.
Trump and McConnell wasted no time in glossing over Garland’s prior nomination, and instead filled Scalia’s vacant seat with Justice Neil Gorsuch.
RBG keeps up the fight
For her part, Ginsburg has been dealing with health issues that have had leftists worried she’ll be forced to retire before Trump leaves office; it was only recently that she suffered broken ribs in a fall that led to surgery to remove cancerous growths on her lungs, and this summer saw further radiation treatment for RBG for a new bout of pancreatic cancer.
The 86-year-old hasn’t let those health scares slow her down, however, and she has kept up a rather busy schedule of public appearances over the summer and into the fall.
“This is my fourth cancer bout, and I found each time that when I am active I am much better than when I am just lying about feeling sorry for myself,” Ginsburg told Totenberg, according to CNBC. “The necessity to get up and go is stimulating. And somehow, all these appearances I’ve had since the end of August, whatever my temporary disability is, it stops, and I’m OK for the event.”
Justice Ginsburg has made it clear that she has no intentions of calling it quits until she is absolutely incapable of doing the job any longer. But while her perseverance is certainly commendable, there will always be grumblings from the left about her refusal to retire under Obama — particularly if events dictate that President Trump is the one who will ultimately nominate her replacement.