Then The Liberals Came For Sonia Sotomayor

2024-04-04 14:00:32

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not retire while Obama was in office, despite urgent calls for her to do so by liberals so that Obama would nominate her replacment. The fear was that if she hung on too long, there might be a Republican President when she died, allowing a Republican to nominate her successor.

Which is what happened on steroids, because the Republican President was Orange Man Bad.

Language Warning

We covered the reaction at the time.

Amy Coney Barrett filled the Ginsburg seat. Democrats remain furious over it, it’s the deep pain that will not heal.

So now liberals are targeting Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the self-described ‘Wise Latina’ who is 69 years old. Per the mortality tables, on average, she has 12 more years to live. So it’s unlikely she would die or retire from illness during the next Trump term. But she apparently has some sort of health issues, so much so she reportedly travels with a medic.

So for Democrats, having Sotomayor hang on is a roll of the dice. That’s a gamble they don’t want to take, so there is a growing chorus of liberal/leftist pundits calling for Sotomayor to resign. This Josh Barro column is typical, Sonia Sotomayor Must Retire:

Sonia Sotomayor will turn 70 this June. If she retires this year, Biden will nominate a young1 and reliably liberal judge to replace her. Republicans do not control the Senate floor and cannot force the seat to be held open like they did when Scalia died. Confirmation of the new justice will be a slam dunk, and liberals will have successfully shored up one of their seats on the court — playing the kind of defense that is smart and prudent when your only hope of controlling the court again relies on both the timing of the deaths or retirements of conservative judges, plus not losing your grip on the three seats you already hold.

But if Sotomayor does not retire this year, we don’t know when she will next be able to retire with a likely liberal replacement. It’s possible that Democrats will retain the presidency and the Senate at this year’s elections, in which case the insurance created by a Sotomayor retirement won’t have been necessary. But if Democrats lose the presidency or the Senate this fall (or both) she’ll need to stay on the court until the party once again controls both. That could be just a few years, or it could be a while — for example, Democrats have previously had to wait 14 years from 1995 to 2009, and 12 years from 1981 to 1993.2 In other words, if Sotomayor doesn’t retire this year, she’ll be making a bet that she will remain fit to serve through age 82 or 84 — and she’ll be taking the whole Democratic Party coalition along with her in making that high-stakes bet.

If Democrats lose the bet, the court’s 6-3 conservative majority will turn into a 7-2 majority at some point within the next decade….

The ladies of The View, with an assist from former MSNBC and al-Jazeera host Mehdi Hassan, are on the case:

So far, leading Democrat politicians are not joining in the demand for retirement, but they are making clear they wouldn’t be upset if it happened:

Democratic senators are not joining calls on the left for liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor to retire. But for the first time, they’re publicly expressing an unease that history could repeat itself after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s refusal to step down in 2014 ended in the Supreme Court lurching sharply to the right….

Democratic senators who serve on the Judiciary Committee remain haunted by the Ginsburg precedent. None are publicly calling on Sotomayor to step down, but they say they hope it doesn’t happen again and create a 7-2 conservative majority.

“I’m very respectful of Justice Sotomayor. I have great admiration for her. But I think she really has to weigh the competing factors,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “We should learn a lesson. And it’s not like there’s any mystery here about what the lesson should be. The old saying — graveyards are full of indispensable people, ourselves in this body included.”

If Sotomayor did resign, it will be another identity-driven selection process. Biden will have to nominate another Latino/a, but he may throw in some intersectional identities if he can find the right person.

Hang in there Sonia, we may not agree on everything, but I stand with you against rampant ageism.


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