DANIEL VAUGHAN: Justice Sotomayor To Resign? Democrats Increasingly Say 'Yes'

 April 5, 2024

There's a curious phenomenon happening in the Senate. On the one hand, all Democrats are on board with Joe Biden running for President, as he is 81 and will turn 82 a few weeks after the November elections. However, the same people are growing increasingly concerned that Justice Sonya Sotomayor, who is 69, is too old for the Supreme Court and should step down.

This report comes to us from NBC News, which headlines its piece, "Top Democrats won't join calls for Justice Sotomayor to retire, but they still fear a Ruth Bader Ginsburg repeat." But when you dig into that piece, one Senator is very clearly and openly suggesting Sotomayor step down now so Democrats can name a replacement.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, himself 78 years old, told NBC News, "I'm very respectful of Justice Sotomayor. I have great admiration for her. But I think she really has to weigh the competing factors ... We should learn a lesson. And it's not like there's any mystery here about what the lesson should be. The old saying — graveyards are full of indispensable people, ourselves in this body included."

Blumenthal added, "Justices have to make their personal decisions about their health and their level of energy, but also to keep in mind the larger national and public interest in making sure that the court looks and thinks like America."

Beyond Senators, the far left is speaking up about Sotomayor, too. Former MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan wants her to step down. Josh Barro has been banging this drum loudly for a while. And even the American Bar Association is feeling out left-wing professors for what they think.

The apparent fear here is Biden losing the White House, Sotomayor passing away during a second Trump term, and the Supreme Court shifting to a 7-2 for Republicans. Democrats call it the Ginsberg precedent - staying "too long" on the bench and allowing the other side to appoint a replacement.

There's endless irony here, though. Sotomayor is 12 years younger than Biden. NBC News and Senate Democrats emphasized Sotomayor's health and age as factors. Yet when Robert Hur raised similar issues regarding Joe Biden, that's somehow a partisan attack from Republicans.

Former Senator and Vice Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman recently passed away after complications with a fall. He was just nine months older than Biden. Sotomayor will turn 70 over the summer and enter her 15th year on the bench. Biden first became a U.S. senator in 1973. He's been in national politics for 50+ years.

I can see why Democrats are making this point about Sotomayor. But if it's true with her, why is it wrong with Biden?

There's a secondary narrative behind this story, too. U.S. Senators are taking very seriously the prospect that Biden loses in the rematch against Trump. They're so concerned about it that they're seriously considering a pressure campaign to push Sotomayor off the bench.

It's too early to tell whether this will happen. The Supreme Court term is entering the busiest part of the year, with final decisions coming out no later than the first of July. The timing to get a replacement on the court is the summer before the new Supreme Court term begins.

In turn, that also means Sotomayor is on the clock for Democrats. If Biden continues languishing in the polls, the pressure on her to step down at the end of this term will increase. Funnily enough, she can make the same claims as Biden on why she should stay on the bench. Neither Biden nor the White House could refute her, and it'd be hard for the Senate to do the same.

But the threat of Biden losing remains real. Trump continues leading the polling averages, something that's been documented for the better part of seven months. Biden used his State of the Union address to beat back the drumbeat to replace him among media members. And now that drumbeat has been replaced by Democrats wanting to replace Sotomayor.

Given the current situation, Sotomayor's treatment should give everyone a clearer picture of what Democrats actually believe about Biden. They think he is replaceable but haven't figured out how to do that yet. If 69-year-old Sotomayor is replaceable because of her old age and health, then none of Biden's arguments make much sense.

In fact, it's a decent question to start peppering the White House with daily. Do they believe Sotomayor should resign to get a replacement before the next term? If so, why? If not, are they tempting the "Ginsberg outcome?"

These are questions being asked in the U.S. Senate. The person who nominates a Supreme Court replacement is the White House. It's time for some White House reporters to ask a question that doesn't align with their personal politics.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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