Ruth Bader Ginburg’s poor health and absence from this week’s Supreme Court argument have generated direct and indirect speculation about the 85-year-old’s imminent retirement.
Sebastian Gorka, a former assistant to President Trump (and Breitbart News staffer), reports, “Two sources tell me RBG has left DC and is getting ready to announce her departure from the Supreme Court”:
Multiple sources tonight tell me this woman is not even in DC, but in New York and preparing to step down from the Supreme Court.
And you ready for what will ensue? pic.twitter.com/PPF5K7o6EQ
— Sebastian Gorka DrG (@SebGorka) January 11, 2019
This speculation is everywhere:
Word is Ruth Bader Ginsburg is about to retire…President @realDonaldTrump and the Republican controlled Senate will have another chance to confirm a Conservative Justice. 3 Trump appointed Supreme Court Justices to lead our nation's Laws back to God. #PromisesMadePromisesKept
— Pastor Mark Burns (@pastormarkburns) January 11, 2019
Others claim to have heard the same news through a “source”:
I am hearing the same thing. We are all praying for RBG. https://t.co/zYd9GO74w4
— Jacob Wohl (@JacobAWohl) January 11, 2019
Speculation has even reached into the establishment media. According to the far-left Politico, the White House is quietly preparing to find a replacement for Ginsburg:
The White House is reaching out to political allies and conservative activist groups to prepare for an ailing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s possible death or departure from the Supreme Court — an event that would trigger the second bitter confirmation battle of President Donald Trump’s tenure.
The outreach began after Ginsburg, 85, on Monday missed oral arguments at the court for the first time in her 25 years on the bench.
Fox News is reporting on Ginsburg’s past comments about what would signal her retirement. In 2013, she told the New York Times, “As long as I can do the job full steam, and that, at my age, is not predictable.”
In 2016, she told NPR she would “retire when it’s time. And when is it time? When I can’t do the job full steam.”
With Ginsburg missing oral argument for the first time since her 1993 appointment, Fox adds, “Ginsburg’s recent absence has stirred speculation on whether she was considering retiring, given her previous comments on the topic.”
But Ginsburg working from home is not unheard of. Fox reported that in 2004 and 2005, the “late Chief Justice William Rehnquist also worked from home and even authored several opinions while undergoing cancer treatment.”
Rehnquist died in September 2005.
Speaking of her retirement, Ginsburg has also said that like her colleague, former Justice Paul Stevens, she would like to continue on the court until she turns 90. It also seems reasonable to assume she would do everything in her power to stay on until President Trump leaves office.
With Justice Brett Kavanaugh replacing swing voter Anthony Kennedy late last year, the Supreme Court now has a 5-4 conservative majority. There is no question the president would replace the left-leaning Ginsburg with a solid conservative, which would swing the court to a 6-3 conservative majority, a thought that horrifies the left.
Although Ginsburg is widely seen among the left as an iconic figure, someone worthy of the nickname “Notorious RBG,” a feature film and CNN’s worshipful documentary, as recently as November she was criticized in the progressive Mother Jones for refusing to retire when a Democrat president could have safely replaced her:
[N]o amount of swag or hagiography can obscure the fact that, while Ginsburg is responsible for a great number of landmark legal decisions, her legacy may be sorely tarnished by one truly terrible one: refusing to retire when President Barack Obama could have named her replacement. That decision came into stark relief this month when Ginsburg fell and broke three ribs—and half of the nation took a collective gasp.
Outside of Ginsburg’s advanced age, adding to the speculation is her recent fall in November and the surgery she underwent last month to remove cancerous tumors from her lungs. But Ginsburg has already survived cancer in 1999 and 2009. She also had heart surgery in 2004.