February 3, 2024

Progressives want 69-year-old liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to retire

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a member of the panel's left flank, is facing mounting pressure from liberals to retire due to mounting concerns that she may facilitate the appointment of a conservative successor by a Republican president.

Josh Barrow, a commentator for CNN, is the most recent to urge the 69-year-old to resign, due to concern she will suffer the same fate as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal jurist who passed away in 2020 at the age of 87, while still on the bench, as the Daily Mail reported.

The demise of the former justice enabled former President Donald Trump to solidify the conservative majority on the Supreme Court through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.

Ongoing Commentary

"I'm not saying I think Justice Sotomayor is on death's door," Barrow conceded to his fellow panelists on CNN This Morning. "But I think it's important, given it's a lifetime appointment, to take a very long-time horizon view on this.

"It seems like that – it would be the right time strategically for her to step down in favor of somebody younger if she's very concerned about the political balance on the court."

The Constitution grants the incumbent president the authority to nominate justices to the Supreme Court, contingent upon the approval of the Senate.

Throughout his four-year term, Trump appointed three justices to the court. Former Justice Stephen Breyer retired at the age of 83 in 2022, which permitted President Biden to appoint liberal Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the bench.

Numerous landmark decisions, such as the reversal of Roe v. Wade and the prohibition of affirmative action in college admission, have been swiftly executed by the court's 6-3 conservative majority.

The Justice's Take

The pressure is mounting on Sotomayor following a speech to students at the University of California Law School this week in which she expressed pessimistic views regarding her role.

"I live in frustration," she admitted, "and every loss truly traumatizes me in my stomach and in my heart. Cases are bigger. They're more demanding. The number of amici are greater, and you know that our emergency calendar is so much more active. To be almost 70 years old, this isn't what I expected. I'm tired."

Barrow said in his commentary, "I find it a little bit surprising, given what Justice Sotomayor describes there about the stakes of what is happening before the Supreme Court, that she's not retired.

"It's quite possible the Democrats will lose control of the Senate in the next election and who knows how long it could be before there's a next opportunity for a Democratic president to make a new appointment to the seat she sits in."

In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed the Bronx-born justice, making her the first Latina to serve on the bench.

Her mother lived to a remarkable 94 years of age, but her father passed away at the young age of 43; she herself has battled Type-1 diabetes throughout her life.

Justices of the Supreme Court typically retire at the age of 80 or older, but some liberals are even taking aim at Sotomayor's fellow liberal, Elena Kagan, who is 63 years old, for the very same reasons.

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