SCOTUS Justice Sotomayor Under Increasing Pressure to Step Down to Avoid Dems’ ‘Nightmare Scenario’

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a 69 year-old lifelong diabetic and the oldest member of the court’s progressive wing, is being pressured by a number of left-wing commentators to retire while Joe Biden is president and Democrats control the Senate.

The calls for Sotomayor to step down are being amplified by left-wing pundits who fear a redux of former SCOTUS justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose refusal to step down in 2014 helped Republican President Donald Trump veer the nation’s top court back to its Constitutional originalist mooring.

After Rush Bader Ginsburg passed away, President Donald Trump replaced her with Justice Amy Coney Barrett to give the constitutionalist wing of the court a 6-3 majority.

Senior NBC reporter Sahil Kapur noted, “Democrats remain haunted by what happened to Ginsburg. Rewind to 2014: She was 81, Obama was president, Dems had 55 Senate seats; liberals called on her to retire. She rejected them. And died in 2020, got replaced by Trump pick A.C. Barrett—the 6-3 SCOTUS.”

Law professor Paul Campos, for example, has called on Sotomayor to make the “statesmanlike” move of stepping aside for a new appointee.

“Sotomayor has been an outstanding justice,” he said. “But the Ruth Bader Ginsburg precedent ought to be extremely sobering. … The cost of her failing to be replaced by a Democratic president with a Democratic Senate would be catastrophic.”

Lucas Powe Jr., a Supreme Court historian at the University of Texas at Austin, has added his voice to the left’s calls for Sotomayor to retire from the court.

“I would love to see Sotomayor retire,” Powe said. “I would love to trade her for a 50-year-old justice.”

Molly Coleman, executive director of the progressive People’s Parity Project, told NBC News she is also on board dumping Sotomayor for a younger progressive justice.

“This isn’t personal. This isn’t about one individual justice,” said Coleman. “It’s nothing to do with what an incredible legal talent Justice Sotomayor is. It’s about what’s in the best interests of the country moving forward.”

The Huffington Post expounded on the “nightmare scenario” of Trump winning in November and being able to appoint his fourth constitutionalist justice due to a sudden health emergency or death on the Supreme Court.

“[T]here is a nightmare scenario for Democrats in which Trump would get to appoint his fourth ultraconservative [sic] justice if the Democratic Senate does not act now,” the Huffington Post said. “Today, Democrats have a 51-49 majority in the Senate ― one more vote than they had two years ago, when they successfully confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who retired at age 83.”

NBC News also cited an anonymous source forbidden from speaking publicly on the matter.

“All the people in the liberal legal community are putting hurting Sonia’s feelings ahead of the prospect of a 7-2 court. Insane,” said one Democrat who has worked on judicial nomination. “So they don’t say anything about her retiring when they all think she should.”

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But top Democratic senators aren’t keen on Sotomayor stepping down; at least not yet.

“Run it to 7-2 and you go from a captured court to a full MAGA court,” Dem. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) said in an interview. “Certainly I think if Justice Ginsburg had it to do over again, she might have rethought her confidence in her own health.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), who also sits on the Judiciary Committee, told NBC News she’s “not going to be talking about anybody choosing to retire.”

White House spokesman Andrew Bates said on the issue: “President Biden believes that decisions to retire from the Supreme Court should be made by the justices themselves and no one else.”

Justice Sotomayor, for that matter, is showing no signs of stepping down.

By Melinda Davies
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