The 85-year-old US Supreme Court Judge, a hero figure to the left, has vowed she is going nowhere even as Trump stacks the bench with conservatives.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on July 30, 2018

The announcement means that Trump will not have the opportunity to choose Ginsburg’s replacement, even if he sees out a second term as President.

Earlier in July 2018 Trump had named conservative juror Brett Kavanaugh as the next US Supreme Court justice. That move ushered in a crucial shift in the political makeup of the bench as Kavanaugh will replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was named to the bench by the Republicans but was generally seen as a moderate judge who did not inevitably side with the conservative voting bloc.

Political news website Axios had previously reported that Trump was telling those around him he was confident he would get to replace Ginsburg during his presidency.

Trump apparently took Ginsburg’s diminuitive stature (he guessed her weight at “60 pounds”) as a sign of her failing health. But last year a Politico journalist tried her fitness regime of side planks, one-legged squats and push-ups and found it positively torturous.

Whether Ginsburg would remain on the bench has been a major source of anxiety for liberals, some of whom thought she should have strategically retired during Obama’s presidency so that the Democrats could replace her with a similarly minded justice. Her most recent comments suggest she is determined to outlast Trump.

Ginsburg: “I have about at least five more years”

“My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90,” Ginsburg said on 29 July. “So I think I have about at least five more years.”

Ginsburg made the comments after she attended a production of The Originalist, a play about the life of the late Justice Antonin Scalia at the 59E59 Theater in New York.

“If I had my choice of dissenters when I was writing for the court, it would be Justice Scalia,” Ginsburg reflected, saying that the to and fro between herself and Scalin helped sharpen her arguments. “Sometimes it was like a ping-pong game.” Ginsburg and Scalin were famously close despite being on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

In conversation with the play’s director, Molly Smith, Ginsburg paid tribute to her late husband, Marty.

“My dear spouse would say that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle, it is the pendulum,” Ginsburg said. “And when it goes very far in one direction you can count on its swinging back.”

Ginsburg, who described herself as a “flaming feminist” during the conversation, also said she would not be in favour of age limits for Supreme Court justices.

“You can’t set term limits, because to do that you’d have to amend the Constitution,” Ginsburg said. “Article 3 says … we hold our offices during good behaviour.”

“And most judges are very well behaved,” she added.

Other countries force judges to retire at certain ages. In Australia, the Constitution provides that High Court judges must retire when they hit 70 years of age. In the UK, judges are forced to retire at either age 70 or 75 depending on their date of appointment.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is having a moment

Even as the political tides in the US have moved against her, Ginsburg has remained a towering figure in American life.

Earlier this year, the documentary film RBG was a festival hit. She has become a popular figure among meme makers who have given her the moniker ‘The Notorious RBG’ after late rapper The Notorious B.I.G, another Brooklyn native.

If Ginsburg was replaced on the Supreme Court bench, it is likely that the decision in Roe v Wade, which legalised abortion in the US, could be challenged and would likely be decided differently with the new makeup of the bench.

Another key decision which could be overturned is Oberfell v Hodges, where the court held that same-sex marriage bans violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. Ginsburg joined Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in that case.

The US Supreme Court is about to rule on whether it should be easier for the relatives of people living in a long-term vegetative state to withdraw their food and water.