With control of the U.S. Senate increasingly seen as up for grabs in the midterm elections this year, court-watchers are renewing a debate over whether Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who recently turned 81, ought to retire so that President Obama could pick her successor while Democrats still control the chamber.
It’s hardly a new debate (see Gavel Grab) but it’s taken on a new life in the current political climate, and it’s even gotten attention overseas. The Economist reported, “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Should she stay or should she go?”
The latest round was kicked off by Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Irvine school of law. Here are some of the others who have replied or looked into their own crystal ball to speculate about what might happen: Dahlia Lithwick in Slate, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is Irreplaceable: All you liberals trying to push her out, think about that”; Garrett Epps in The Atlantic, “Don’t Tell Ruth Ginsburg to Retire: This Supreme Court justice will leave the bench when she’s ready,regardless of what others think”; and Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post’s Right Turn blog, “Liberal vultures swoop down on Ginsburg.”
That’s not all. The What-Ifs are taken even further by Jonathan Bernstein who asks in a Bloomberg View essay, “Will Supreme Court Vacancies Trigger Nuclear Option?” When the Senate changed its rules last year to eliminate filibusters of most judicial nominees, it did not apply the change to Supreme Court nominations. The rules change was so controversial it was called the “nuclear option.”