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Report: White House quietly getting ready for possible Ginsburg departure
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The Trump administration is reportedly preparing itself for the possibility of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s departure from the Supreme Court.
“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,” reads a Thursday report from Politico.
Authors Eliana Johnson and Gabby Orr attribute their story to an anonymous source who is “familiar with those conversations.” According to this individual, the Trump administration is already compiling a short-list of candidates to replace Ginsburg.
“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,” says the source. “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.”
Apparently, this new shortlist already includes many who were on previous lists — such as the one put out in November of 2017 and the most recent one from which Justice Brett Kavanaugh was selected — but did not get the nod.
This includes Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit; Joan Larsen, Amul Thapar, and Raymond Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit; Britt Grant of the Eleventh Circuit; Thomas Hardiman of the Third Circuit; and Neomi Rao, whom Trump has nominated to fill Kavanaugh’s former spot on the D.C. Circuit.
Such reports have been making headlines this past week as the 85-year-old Ginsberg missed oral arguments for the first time since being appointed twenty-five years ago. Her absence is due to recovery from her recent surgery to remove cancerous nodules on her lungs.
Ginsberg’s future on the court is of pivotal importance to both Republicans and Democrats. If she leaves, it would give Trump a third Supreme Court appointment, likely ensuring a conservative majority for decades to come.
A 6-3 edge would make it very difficult for liberals to use the Court to circumvent the constitutionally prescribed lawmaking process, as they have been doing for at least the past fifty years.
Don’t count her out yet
The fact that Ginsburg has missed oral arguments for this first time, despite a number of previous health issues which never held her back before, has suggested to some that she is weakening. But don’t count her out just yet — her resilience is well established.
Ginsburg’s doctors stated that she has “no evidence of any remaining disease.” And according to the court, she is reading transcripts of the oral arguments and working from home.
Ginsburg has repeatedly said that she will retire only when she “can’t do the job full steam.” She has already hired clerks for 2020, which would suggest that she’s not going anywhere anytime soon — and, having lifelong tenure, she is under no obligation to.
In addition, let’s also avoid the media’s portrayal of Trump as someone who just can’t wait for Ginsburg to move on. If preparations are underway, it is only because of the challenges that Trump foresees in getting another justice confirmed. Although it is hard to imagine, a third confirmation could be even more challenging than the previous two.
As of now, it is unclear when Ginsburg will return to the bench.
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