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Nate Silver: Sotomayor Should Retire Before the Election


By Thomas Neuburger


“In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.” —William Ruskin


”Pride went before, ambition follows him.” —William Shakespeare


It doesn't get simpler than this. From Nate Silver at his Substack site:

Sonia Sotomayor's retirement is a political IQ test
Sonia Sotomayor, one of the three remaining liberal Supreme Court justices, will turn 70 years old in June, is diabetic and had one parent who died at a young age. There are some offsetting factors at work — women live longer than men, and Sotomayor undoubtedly has access to world-class health care. So I’m not going to pull out an actuarial table or pretend to precisely estimate her lifespan. However, there is clearly a chance that Sotomayor will die or become unable to carry out her duties before Democrats again control both the presidency and the Senate.
I am not the only person to bring up this touchy subject. Josh Barro has been advocating for Sotomayor to retire. And the issue has reached the mainstream: Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse have also not-so-subtly encouraged her to find the exit door.
However, I’m going to be more blunt than any of them. If you’re someone who even vaguely cares about progressive political outcomes — someone who would rather not see a 7-2 conservative majority on the Supreme Court even if you don’t agree with liberals on every issue— you should want Sotomayor to retire and be replaced by a younger liberal justice. And — here’s the mean part — if you don’t want that, you deserve what you get.

“Here's the mean part — if you don't want that, you deserve what you get.” No kidding.


‘An extraordinarily self-centered thing to do’

Our Supreme Court center-left justices are rightly praised for many of their rulings (and not so praised for others).


But the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsberg is perhaps the most mixed. For example (emphasis mine):

That the canonization of Ginsburg comes during a time of antiracist uprising is especially troubling, given her dismissive stance towards Black revolutionary politics. When asked for comment on former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the national anthem, Ginsburg said she thought his silent protest against racism and police brutality was “really dumb,” adding “if they want to be stupid, there’s no law that should be preventive. If they want to be arrogant, there’s no law that prevents them from that. What I would do is strongly take issue with the point of view that they are expressing when they do that.” Ginsburg clearly viewed herself as generous and tolerant for stating that she “wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it.” “It,” of course, is the exercise of their first amendment rights and the defense of the cause of oppressed people. 
Her dismissive, callous attitude towards someone asking the state not to murder Black people mirrors the attitude of conservative Justice Atonin Scalia, whose friendship with Ginsburg centrists often tout as an example of how everyone should get along.

See also this.


Now consider this piece from Politico, published after her death and just before the reversal of Roe v Wade. It touches directly on the fact of her non-retirement (emphasis mine).

“It’s certainly hard for me, now, to think of her work and of her — and not to, these days, work up a degree of regret and anger,” says Dorothy Samuels, who authored The New York Times’ legal editorials during her 30 years on the paper’s editorial board. “This is so multilayered because she cared so passionately about advancing equality for everybody. ... And yet, what she has helped to give us is a court that for a long, long time is going to be undoing the equality rulings that she was part of.”
Samuels heard the same thing from former clerks and other inner-circle members while researching a book in the years before Ginsburg’s death. “It was an extraordinarily self-centered thing to do.”
“She gambled,” says Michele Dauber, the outspoken Stanford law professor, speaking of Ginsburg’s apparent calculation that Hillary Clinton would be in the White House to appoint her successor. “But she didn’t just gamble with herself. She gambled with the rights of my daughter and my granddaughter. And unfortunately, that’s her legacy.”

I'm not ready to say that Sotomayor will do what Ginsberg did. In fact, I think she will do what Ginsberg should have done. Pride goeth before a fall, and I'm not sure how prideful Sonia Sotomayor is.


But Silver's correct. This is a test of everyone's politics.


Not Just the White House, But the Senate Too

After all, the Democratic Party has to not only win the White House to secure the next post-election justice pick. They have to win the Senate too. And that's by no means certain. Silver: Overall, prediction markets give Democrats only a 25 percent chance of keeping control of the Senate.”


Will they take that chance? Will Party leaders call for her to step down if Sotomayor shows reluctance? After all, she not yet ill. She may well choose to stay on.


How confident are Party leaders in the next election? We may soon find out. After all, pride goeth, etc. Stay tuned.

6 Comments


Yes it would’ve been Merrick Garland, who has turned out to be a righteous spineless jerk more concerned with the appearance of fairness than having the courage to take a stand and be strong. He’s been a terrible disappointment. He waited way too long to do anything about The Trumpanzee. He did nothing about Mueller’s finding of prosecutable obstruction and this was huge. No special prosecutor for Jared Kushner.

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Guest
Apr 09

It's nazis 6, non-nazis 3. To critique the selfishness of RBG is fair on its face. But had she left and been replaced by obamanation:

  1. can you guarantee he would not have nom'd the colossal pussy merrick garland or someone even worse... and can you hallucinate that would have NOT made the court worse anyway?

  2. That would have made it nazis 5, non-nazis 4 (maybe). Sooooo what?

  3. perhaps Sotomayor should retire. But who would the money's favorite corrupt racist misogynist pussy nominate? Someone like or worse than merrick garland?


For the final few months of the republic, Sotomayor should stay where she is... if she can stomach it. It won't matter. The nazis will either be 6-3 or 5-4. …


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It doesn't look good to push out a progressive, female, Latina. 69 year old judge, when you're running a not so progressive, white, male, 81 year old candidate for president. Especially if you're doing it because the old dude can't win the election.

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Guest
Apr 10
Replying to

to what end? 6-3? 6-2? what's the difference?

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