Ruth Bader Ginsburg is loath to give President Donald Trump a chance to appoint a third justice to the Supreme Court bench, pledging to hold onto her seat for the next five years.
At a New York event for the play "The Originalist," which chronicles the life of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016, Ginsburg told the crowd she plans to stay on the court until she's 90. "I'm now 85," Ginsburg said Sunday. "My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so think I have about at least five more years."
The longtime justice had also made clear her intentions to wait out Trump's term in January, when she announced a full slate of clerks who would work in her chambers through 2020.
Ginsburg's remaining time on the Supreme Court has been the source of great anxiety in the aftermath of Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement and Trump's subsequent nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, a federal judge whose nomination would skew the makeup of the court firmly in favor of conservatives.
Particularly of concern is Trump's promise to appoint anti-abortion judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade, making the president's second nominee a direct threat to abortion rights in the United States. Kavanaugh's track record on choice only exacerbates these worries: Just last year, in the D.C. Circuit US Court of Appeals, Kavanaugh attempted to block a 17-year-old immigrant in federal custody from getting an abortion, writing in his dissenting opinion that "the government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life."
Under these conditions, keeping Ginsburg on the court is crucial for progressives who have relied on the Supreme Court as a means to impose checks and balances on the Trump administration.
Ginsburg has positioned herself as an ally in the resistance against Trump's agenda, explicitly first—calling Trump a "faker" and slamming his "ego"—and then more obliquely, often making statements to news outlets such as: "We're not experiencing the best of times."
Ginsburg has said she'll continue to be a "flaming feminist litigator" in the Trump era, but emphasizes that preserving civil liberties has never been a job for one judge or one court—even if it's the highest in the nation.
“The court is never the vanguard of change,” Ginsburg said in conversation at the 92nd Street Y last fall. “People have to change. Attitudes had to change…. I think it’s a challenge for all people who love liberty to see that we don’t lose it.”