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The Event That Caused Obama to Make an Attempt to Get Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Retire

AP Photo/Mike Groll

Liberals can only blame one person for the Supreme Court fiasco on their end. And that would be Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The late justice passed away at the age of 87 on September 18. Senate Republicans are going to fill the vacancy before the election. They have the votes. Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have all signed on to fill the seat. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), an early ‘no’ vote, is changing her tune. We have the votes to get this out of committee and onto the floor for a full confirmation vote. And we’re going to get it. Liberals can have their tantrum and when they’re done, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative Catholic, will be taking the place of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Elections have consequences. We won. 


Yet, in 2013, then-President Obama knew the 2014 midterms would probably not be favorable to him. Seldom has the party occupying the presidency gained seats in a midterm election, with one of the few examples, and possibly the only exception, being the 2002 midterms, where Republicans under George W. Bush gained seats in both houses of Congress. In 2014, the GOP gained nine Senate seats. 

Yet, before that red wave crashed, the 44th president of the United States tried to get the already aged justice to retire. It wasn’t a direct order. That would be widely inappropriate and unseemly, but a nudge towards that end. An indirect ‘hey, I could lose the Senate and miss out on the chance of keeping the liberal wing strong’ suggestion. It went unheeded. And Obama wasn’t the only one who tried to get Ruth Bader Ginsburg to hang up her robes (via NYT):

When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined President Barack Obama for lunch in his private dining room in July 2013, the White House sought to keep the event quiet — the meeting called for discretion.

Mr. Obama had asked his White House counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, to set up the lunch so he could build a closer rapport with the justice, according to two people briefed on the conversation. Treading cautiously, he did not directly bring up the subject of retirement to Justice Ginsburg, at 80 the Supreme Court’s oldest member and a two-time cancer patient.

He did, however, raise the looming 2014 midterm elections and how Democrats might lose control of the Senate. Implicit in that conversation was the concern motivating his lunch invitation — the possibility that if the Senate flipped, he would lose a chance to appoint a younger, liberal judge who could hold on to the seat for decades.

But the effort did not work, just as an earlier attempt by Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who was then Judiciary Committee chairman, had failed. Justice Ginsburg left Mr. Obama with the clear impression that she was committed to continuing her work on the court, according to those briefed.


Instead, RBG screwed over her own side by refusing to retire. In doing so, she put the liberal wing of the Supreme Court in a vulnerable position. And this is the consequence of that—not that I’m complaining. 

The bogeyperson isn’t Trump, McConnell, or Senate Republicans. It’s RBG. Sorry, liberals, her refusal to leave really did you in regarding maintaining your footing in the Supreme Court. 

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