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White House quietly preparing for possible departure of Justice Ginsburg

White House quietly preparing for possible departure of Justice Ginsburg

Still recovering from her recent lung surgery at home, Justice Ginsburg was unable to attend oral arguments this week for the first time in her career on the Supreme Court. As a result, Politico reports the White House is apparently telling allies to prepare themselves for the possibility she could retire.

The White House “is taking the temperature on possible short-list candidates, reaching out to key stakeholders, and just making sure that people are informed on the process,” said a source familiar with those conversations, who spoke on background given the delicate nature of the subject. “They’re doing it very quietly, of course, because the idea is not to be opportunistic, but just to be prepared so we aren’t caught flat-footed.”…

The White House is urging outside allies to be prepared for another bruising confirmation battle should Ginsberg’s health take a sudden turn for the worse, according to four sources with knowledge of the overtures. Outside groups, led by the Federalist Society and the Judicial Crisis Network, played a leading role in helping to confirm Kavanaugh and, before that, Justice Neil Gorsuch…

The White House counsel’s office and senior aides on the Senate Judiciary Committee, now chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), have begun drafting a shortlist of potential court nominees. It features judges the president has considered for previous vacancies along with some new names. Many of them are women, sources say.

I’m curious about where all this information, including a long list of potential nominees, is coming from. Someone is obviously talking and it’s probably safe to assume that person has some agenda. Are they hoping to embarrass the White House and create a pro-Ginsburg backlash? Or is the White House itself leaking this as a way to get the speculation going about Ginsburg’s future? If forced to guess I might choose the latter, but it’s just a guess. There was some rather blunt talk about the need for Justice Kennedy to retire before he made it official. Whatever this is, it’s nothing like that. But even CNN is suggesting today that there is an “atmosphere of uncertainty” about what is going to happen next.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s cancer surgery and ongoing recuperation has cast an atmosphere of uncertainty over the Supreme Court at a critical time for its future and as the legal fate of several controversial White House policies hang in the balance…

Ginsburg, who will turn 86 in March, is recuperating at her Washington, DC, home. She has been reading legal briefs and participating in cases by relaying her votes to the other justices…

A survivor of two prior cancer surgeries, in 1999 and 2009, Ginsburg had made it a point of pride that she missed no oral arguments during those episodes.

But this time that was not possible.

In any case, calling a potential Trump replacement of Justice Ginsburg “another bruising confirmation battle” is like calling WWII another minor skirmish. The confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh was certainly brutal and included unsubstantiated allegations of gang rape, but he was only replacing a swing vote who often voted with the right anyway. Ginsburg, on the other hand, is the liberal lion of the court and also happens to be at the peak of her cultural popularity on the left, with a feature film currently in release about her life, a hit documentary, even an illustrated workout book. The battle to replace Ginsburg, if it comes during Trump’s tenure, is going to be unlike anything we’ve experienced before.

But for the moment, there’s no real evidence it’s about to happen, just signs of due diligence from the White House and some nervous anticipation from the left. Whether she retires next week or in three years, I hope she fully recovers from her recent surgery.

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