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SCOTUS/Oyez (Public Domain)
Some, however, see this as a window into a broken system.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she has no plans on retiring anytime soon and believes she has “at least five more years” on the bench.
Speaking on Sunday after watching a play about late colleague Justice Antonin Scalia’s life, Ginsburg said, “I’m now 85. My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so think I have about at least five more years.”
This confirmation from Ginsburg comes as a relief to many, who are concerned about Trump’s ability to stack the Supreme Court with conservative justices following the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. SCOTUS already has five right-leaning appointees, and four left-leaning ones, including Kennedy, and another Republican nomination could put progressive policy in severe jeopardy for the next several decades. In particular, Trump has stated that a goal in changing the Supreme Court would be to overturn Roe v. Wade, which would be a crippling blow to reproductive justice and women’s rights in the United States. But Ginsburg isn’t anywhere close to calling it quits yet, and many people are celebrating her strength and tenacity.
However, others are pointing out what they see as a strange and broken system, where elderly justices have to “hang on” in order to prevent a decades-long imbalance of political power.
Critics of the Supreme Court see a lifetime appointment by the president as antithetical to democracy, both because citizens do not have a direct say in Supreme Court justices, and the iron-clad tenure justices hold in an ever-changing culture.
When asked about term limits for justices, Ginsburg seemed to think it was very unlikely. “You can’t set term limits, because to do that, you’d have to amend the Constitution,” the justice said. While many citizens may think this is a necessary change, it does not seem to be a relevant issue to decision makers in Washington.
Alex Dalbey is a writer and zinester currently working out of St. Paul, Minnesota. They have bylines at The Daily Dot, Kill Screen, and Bullet Points. Follow them on Twitter @thedialogtree