Some left-wing activists are pushing liberal Supreme Court justices to retire in order to nominate more radical replacements, according to a report by Politico.
Several think pieces have argued that Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan should retire. They argue that similar to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s decision not to retire, Kagan and Sotomayor’s refusal to step down may allow Republicans to nominate more conservative justices if the GOP takes the Senate in 2024.
Some Democrats described as “close to the Biden administration and high-profile lawyers with past White House experience” spoke off the record in favor of Soyomayor’s retirement. But they are worried about the optics of asking the 68-year-old Latina justice to step down. (RELATED: Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders Bans The Term ‘Latinx’ From Official Government Use)
“It’s absolutely a conversation that’s being had,” said Molly Coleman, the executive director of the progressive activist group People’s Parity Project. “But the public conversations are very different from the behind the scenes conversations.”
But some of the most radical left-wing organizations are skeptical about the move. Demand Justice, a group that hired a billboard truck to drive around the Supreme Court and urge Justice Stephen Breyer to retire in 2021, says they won’t do anything similar for Kagan and Sotomayor.
Perhaps there is some middle ground between “it’s insulting and horrible to suggest RBG should retire when she’s in her 80s” (heard in 2014) and “every left-of-center Justice who wasn’t appointed last year should step down” (heard now). https://t.co/xi5J7xSnE0
— Orin Kerr (@OrinKerr) January 12, 2023
“I certainly understand the argument and think it is fair to ask the question, but we do not plan to mount any campaign on this like we did last year for Breyer,” Brian Fallon, the head of the group, said. “No judge is above reproach, but as crisis-level situations go, this does not seem as acute as Breyer was, or even as urgent a problem as, say, the Democrats’ ongoing refusal to get rid of blue slips.”
Democrats urged Stephen Breyer to step down in 2021, before a potential GOP takeover of the Senate. Democrats were then able to replace Breyer with liberal Justice Kentaji Brown Jackson. Other Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, had pressured liberal justices such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg to retire before Republicans could take the Senate. Ginsburg refused to step down, and her death in 2020 left a vacancy for conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett to fill.