Top Democrats Won’t Join Calls For Justice Sotomayor To Retire

Democratic senators are not joining calls on the left for liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor to retire. But for the first time, they’re publicly expressing an unease that history could repeat itself after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s refusal to step down in 2014 ended in the Supreme Court lurching sharply to the right.

Ginsburg, then 81 and a cancer survivor, could have retired and been replaced by a Democratic appointee when President Barack Obama was in office and his party controlled 55 Senate seats. She rejected the calls — and died in September 2020, allowing then-President Donald Trump to replace her.

It was a history-making moment: Ginsburg’s successor, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, gave rise to a 6-3 conservative majority. Barrett went on to cast a deciding vote to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling less than two years later.

With that humbling history in mind, some liberal commentators say Sotomayor — who is 69, a lifelong diabetic and the oldest member of the court’s liberal wing — should retire while Joe Biden is president and Democrats control the Senate, echoing similar calls directed at Ginsburg a decade ago that went unheeded.

Democratic senators who serve on the Judiciary Committee remain haunted by the Ginsburg precedent. None are publicly calling on Sotomayor to step down, but they say they hope it doesn’t happen again and create a 7-2 conservative majority.

“I’m very respectful of Justice Sotomayor. I have great admiration for her. But I think she really has to weigh the competing factors,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “We should learn a lesson. And it’s not like there’s any mystery here about what the lesson should be. The old saying — graveyards are full of indispensable people, ourselves in this body included.”

Read full story at NBC News.