“The White House is reaching out to political allies and conservative activist groups to prepare for an ailing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s possible death or departure from the Supreme Court — an event that would trigger the second bitter confirmation battle of President Donald Trump’s tenure,” a report in Politico this Thursday contends.
Trump’s “White House ‘is taking the temperature on possible short-list candidates, reaching out to key stakeholders, and just making sure that people are informed on the process,” said a source familiar with those conversations, who spoke on background given the delicate nature of the subject. ‘They’re doing it very quietly, of course, because the idea is not to be opportunistic, but just to be prepared so we aren’t caught flat-footed.'”
Earlier this year — in fact, the very day after the November midterm elections — Justice Ginsburg was hospitalized after a fall caused her to break three ribs. The fall ultimately led to the detection of two cancerous growths on her lungs, for which she has undergone surgery, but which has also caused her to miss oral arguments this week for the first time in her decades-long career.
The loss of the Clinton appointee and liberal icon would almost certainly embroil Washington in yet more controversy in a post-Kavanaugh age of judicial politics:
“‘It would be a brutal confirmation,’ said John Malcolm, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. ‘The first two were not easy at all, but this would be much harder in this respect: When Neil Gorsuch was the nominee, you were replacing a conservative with a conservative. With Kavanaugh, you were replacing the perennial swing voter, who more times than not sided with the so-called conservative wing, so that slightly solidified the conservative wing.'”
“‘But if you are replacing Justice Ginsburg with a Trump appointee, that would be akin to replacing Thurgood Marshall with Clarence Thomas,’ Malcolm added. ‘It would mark a large shift in the direction of the court.'”