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U.S. Supreme Court

Ginsburg’s Love of Job Shows Problems with ‘Supreme Court Vacancy Sweepstakes’

Posted Nov 30, 2012 2:10 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Speculation abounds on whether any U.S. Supreme Court liberals will retire to allow President Barack Obama a chance to name a replacement.

The focus is on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is 79 years old and the court’s oldest member. “But Justice Ginsburg illustrates some of the fundamental problems with the important game of Supreme Court vacancy sweepstakes,” according to SCOTUSblog.

“First, she likes the job and has no burning desire to give it up. Second, although she looks frail and has fought colon cancer, by all accounts she is in good health and is functioning effectively at the court. In short, she believes she has more to accomplish as a justice.”

Some prior justices have not followed the conventional wisdom by retiring to allow for appointment of a like-minded successor. SCOTUSblog points to two justices—William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall—who did not retire during the presidency of President Jimmy Carter, despite the urging of liberals. For the next 12 years, Republicans held the presidency. Both retired for health reasons during the presidency of George H.W. Bush.

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