President Donald Trump expects to appoint three more Supreme Court justices before the 2020 presidential election, he reportedly told aides.
The president believes Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, both Democratic appointees, will leave judicial service during his first term, Axios reported Sunday. Both justices are in poor health, making them likely prospects for imminent vacancies, Trump claims.
Though it is certainly possible Trump will appoint more Supreme Court justices in the next three years, it is extremely unlikely he could name as many as three before the next election.
His comments regarding Sotomayor in particular are odd. Though the justice has type 1 diabetes, her doctors have previously pronounced her in excellent health. Her longtime doctor, Andrew Jay Drexler, certified in a letter released by former President Barack Obama’s White House that Sotomayor has effectively managed her diabetes for decades, maintaining “excellent control” over her blood sugar for as long as she has been in his care.
Sources close to the justice dismissed Trump’s comments as uninformed speculation. She is in high spirits, good health, and consciously counters the disease with healthy eating and attentiveness to medical advice, the sources said and further note the sense of discipline she cultivated as a young child while managing diabetes was essential to her future success as a student, lawyer, and judge.
Approximately 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
The other justice Trump identified, Ginsburg, is 84. Though she has battled cancer twice, she appears to be in reasonably good health, and shows no signs of mental degeneration from the bench. While small and hunched in stature, she remains a sharp and engaged presence during oral arguments.
Her personal trainer, Bryant Johnson, recently published a book about her twice-weekly workout regiment called “The RBG Workout.” Still, it is impossible to anticipate how her health might develop in the coming years.
The Axios news article does not identify the third justice Trump expects to replace, though there are two possible candidates. The first is Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, who has quietly indicated that he is mulling retirement. The administration has sent Kennedy signals of its own, meant to coax the Court’s swing vote into retirement, though some court watchers speculate the unpredictability that has characterized the early months of the Trump presidency might prompt Kennedy to delay retirement.
The other possibility is Justice Stephen Breyer, who is 79. He has not let slip any intimation that he is considering retirement, and also appears to be in good health.
Still, the matter of judicial appointments is potent for the president. Exit polls from the 2016 election indicate Supreme Court nominations were a top-tier issue for Republican voters.
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