Ginsburg Retirement Would Give Obama Another Nominee

Obama could get another chance to appoint a younger liberal to the court.

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President Obama might have a third chance to add a younger liberal to the Supreme Court if rumors about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg retiring come true.

Several activists involved in the current fight over Obama's pick of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens say there are strong rumblings that Ginsburg will also retire soon, assured that she will be replaced by a liberal judge. [See a gallery of Kagan cartoons.]

While the court won't comment on the rumors, indications are that she might be looking to leave soon because of the recent death of her husband and also because of her own health issues. She recently underwent chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.

Conservatives are already prepping for a third battle, worried that even if Obama isn't getting a chance to add an additional liberal member to the conservative-majority court, he is installing younger liberals who will be on the court for decades.

"This is a big deal," said one foe of Obama's two picks so far: Kagan and Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Even more than the judges they are replacing, said the Obama critic, the new judges are more "agenda driven" than those they are replacing.

Others, however, say that it's typical for elderly judges to retire when they know that a president will replace them with similar thinking justices. That's one reason why conservatives were happy with the recent comment from Republican Justice Anthony Kennedy that he plans to stay on at least until Obama's first term is up in January 2013.

  • Check out our gallery of cartoons about Kagan's nomination.
  • See a slide show of 10 Factors That Will Shape Kagan's Decisions.