Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, is hospitalized and getting treatment for pancreatic cancer (hat tip). I wish her well and hope she pulls through, as from the point of view of women’s rights she is the best justice on the SCOTUS.
I do think that she will retire during President Barack Obama’s term. Who will replace her? That depends on when she leaves the court. Pundits have named Sonia Sotomayor and Solicitor General-designate Elena Kagan as the most likely next nominees to the SCOTUS. If she leaves soon, I’d say that Sotomayor is the nominee because Kagan has surprisingly little courtroom experience. If it’s later, I’m less certain. Regardless, it seems that due to their age, Ginsburg and Associate Justice Stevens will be the next to retire. President Obama will likely replace them will ideologically similar judges. Both parties in the Senate should vote for these justices’ replacements, rather than being time-wasting obstructionists. Why? The number of right-wing, centrist, and left-wing justices on the SCOTUS will be four, one, and four respectively before their replacement, and it will still be four, one, and four after. Hence, in terms of ideological balance, the stakes will not be particularly high. The real nomination battle will take place if Justice Kennedy or if one of the conservative justices leaves the court.