Dem Senators Get Anxious Over Prospect Of Another Ginsburg Situation On SCOTUS
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks during a service for retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in the Great Hall at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on December 18, 2023.
(Photo by JACQUELYN MARTIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Democrats in the Senate are expressing concerns about the possibility of a scenario that echoes Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suddenly dying and giving way to a conservative majority during Donald Trump’s presidency.

A report from NBC News explored how this anxiety is centered on Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the oldest liberal member of the court at 69 and a lifelong diabetic, not stepping down while President Joe Biden is in office and Democrats control the Senate.

“I’m very respectful of Justice Sotomayor. I have great admiration for her. But I think she really has to weigh the competing factors,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) told the news outlet. “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.”

Though Blumenthal said Sotomayor is “a highly accomplished and, obviously, fully functioning justice right now,” he noted that “justices have to make their personal decisions about their health, and their level of energy, but also to keep in mind the larger national and public interest in making sure that the court looks and thinks like America.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), the second-ranked Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said he is “not joining any calls” for Sotomayor to step down but warned of an “extremist wing” if the 6-3 conservative majority created during Trump’s presidency is allowed to expand further.

“Run it to 7-2 and you go from a captured court to a full MAGA court,” Whitehouse added. “Certainly I think if Justice Ginsburg had it to do over again, she might have rethought her confidence in her own health.”

Biden has been able to nominate just one person to the high court during his presidency. He selected Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace Stephen Breyer, who retired under pressure from the Left.

Ginsburg long resisted a push by liberals who wanted her to retire as she reached her 80s and experienced health scares. She died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 87 in 2020, paving the way for Trump-nominated Amy Coney Barrett to take her place.

Some legal scholars are now pushing for Sotomayor to step down, but the NBC News report claimed there are no signs that Sotomayor has plans to retire. However, according to Bloomberg Law, she said in January that she was “tired” by the workload. Sotomayor has served on the high court since 2009 during the Obama administration.


Biden is running for a second term, paving the way to a 2020 general election rematch against Trump. White House spokesman Andrew Bates said Biden “believes that decisions to retire from the Supreme Court should be made by the justices themselves and no one else.”

One Republican lawmaker quoted in the new report was Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who is 90 and has already filed paperwork to run for a ninth term in 2028. “Everybody’s got to make that personal decision,” Grassley said. “And I wouldn’t comment on it for somebody else, because that’s their decision. Just like it’s my decision to run for re-election.”

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