April 28, 2014 — A few liberal legal experts have suggested that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should retire before this fall's midterm election to ensure that President Obama can nominate a "like-minded" replacement while Democrats control the Senate, CQ Roll Call reports.
According to CQ Roll Call, Ginsburg is "widely seen as the next justice" to announce his or her retirement. Ginsburg, who is the oldest justice on the Supreme Court at age 81, has battled cancer and might want to make sure that Obama is the president tasked with naming her successor, CQ Roll Call reports.
However, Ginsburg herself has given little indication that she is ready to retire, and recent interviews suggest that she intends to remain on the court for the time being. In addition, four of the last five former Supreme Court justices who have announced their retirement have done so by May 1 to allow the president and Senate time to nominate and confirm a replacement. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was the exception, announcing her retirement in July 2005, but she did so with the stipulation that she would remain on the bench until her replacement was confirmed.
Edwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California-Irvine's law school, wrote in a recent Los Angeles Times opinion piece that the "best way for [Ginsburg] to advance all the things she has spent her life working for is to ensure that a Democratic president picks her successor," adding that she could enable that by "resign[ing] this summer."
Democrats currently have a 53-45 advantage in the Senate, but they are defending 21 seats during the midterm election, while Republicans are defending 15. Historically, the sitting president's party fares poorly in midterm elections.
Ian Millhiser, senior policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, said that Obama could nominate "someone more in the mode of Ginsburg" -- such as D.C. Court of Appeals Judge Cornelia Pillard, whom Millhiser considers the "preeminent women's rights litigator of her generation" -- if the Senate is in Democrats' control. A Republican majority would be able to "skim a few potential nominees off the top" and likely prompt Obama to nominate a "really safe pick," such as D.C. Court of Appeals Judge Patricia Ann Millett, according to Millhiser (Gramlich, CQ Roll Call, 4/28).