(WASHINGTON) — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wanted to make one thing crystal-clear over the summer: She has no immediate plans to step down. She is taking her spot on the bench to begin the new term on Monday.
Ginsburg spent the summer traveling, giving speeches and reiterating in several print interviews that she expects to stay on the Supreme Court. She celebrated her 80th birthday last March and has spent 20 years on the Supreme Court bench.
So what keeps her going?
“This fantastic job,” Ginsburg told NPR’s Michel Martin at a Georgetown Law event celebrating women’s rights a few weeks ago.
“My only weapon is the power to persuade, so I work terribly hard on my opinions,” Ginsburg said.
Some legal experts believe she is just entering her prime.
“It seems in the last two years you are on fire,” Jeffrey Rosen, the President of the National Constitutional Center, told the Justice in early September.
She is perhaps best known for her 1996 landmark majority opinion striking down the all-male admissions policy at the state-funded Virginia Military Institute. She has, in the past, been on the other side, dissenting with force in cases regarding such issues as pay discrimination and abortion restrictions.
But in the last few years she has taken on a new role on the Court. In 2010, Justice John Paul Stevens retired at 91 years old. Ginsburg became the senior member of the Court’s four member liberal wing. In those controversial cases when the Court splits 5-4 on ideological lines, she gets to choose who will write the dissent.
Rosen asked Ginsburg what emboldened her to express herself so powerfully in recent cases including those on health care, affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act.
“I had a good model,” she replied, referring to Stevens.
In almost every interview, Ginsburg is asked whether she may soon retire given her age and her two previous bouts with cancer.
Howard J. Bashman, a lawyer who publishes the popular How Appealing blog, wrote recently that Ginsburg may want a president with similar views to her own to nominate her successor.
“The most certain way to ensure such a replacement is for Justice Ginsburg to retire during the Obama presidency, and the most certain way to obtain confirmation of such a replacement is for the confirmation process to occur during the current Senate, rather than with a Senate of unknown composition that will exist in 2015-2016 (and the run-up to another presidential election),” Bashman wrote.
Ginsburg has repeated that she has no plans to step down in the immediate future.
When the question came up at the National Constitution Center event, Ginsburg simply responded, “Think about what is coming up next term.” And then launched into the cases at hand.
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