84-year-old US Supreme Court justice signals intent to continue working
In different circumstances, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg might be on a valedictory tour in her final months on the Supreme Court. But in the era of Donald Trump, the 84-year-old Ginsburg is packing her schedule and sending signals she intends to keep her seat on the bench for years.
The eldest Supreme Court justice has produced two of the court's four signed opinions so far this term. Outside court, she's the subject of a new documentary that includes video of her working out. And she's hired law clerks to take her through June 2020, just four months before the next presidential election.
Soaking in her late-in-life emergence as a liberal icon, she's using the court's monthlong break to embark on a speaking tour that is taking her from the Sundance Film Festival in Utah to law schools and synagogues on the East Coast. One talk will have her in Rhode Island on Tuesday, meaning she won't attend the president's State of the Union speech that night in Washington.
She has a standard response for interviewers who ask how long she intends to serve. She will stay as long as she can go "full steam," she says, and she sees as her model John Paul Stevens, who stepped down as a justice in 2010 at age 90.
"I think that Justice Ginsburg has made clear that she has no intention of retiring. I am sure she wants to stay on the court until the end of the Trump presidency if she can," said Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the law school at the University of California, Berkeley, and a liberal who called on Ginsburg to retire in 2014, when Barack Obama was president and Democrats controlled the Senate.
But Chemerinsky noted, "No one can know whether she will be on the court on Jan. 20, 2021, if Trump serves one term, let alone Jan. 20, 2025, if he is re-elected."
Ginsburg doesn't talk about Trump in public anymore, not since she criticised him in interviews with The Associated Press and other media outlets before the 2016 election. The comments prompted Trump to tweet that "Her mind is shot - resign!" She later apologised.
Ginsburg, who declined to comment for this story, this year marks the 25th anniversary of her nomination by President Bill Clinton and her confirmation as the second woman on the court.