The White House is quietly preparing for another Supreme Court vacancy in case of “ailing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s possible death or departure,” Politico reported.
According to the outlet, the White House outreach began when Ginsburg, 85, missed oral arguments for the first time this week as she recovers from a surgery to remove cancerous growths from her lungs. Ginsburg has served on the court since 1993.
According to Politico’s sources, the White House is “taking the temperature on possible short-list candidates, reaching out to key stakeholders, and just making sure that people are informed on the process.”
"They're doing it very quietly, of course, because the idea is not to be opportunistic, but just to be prepared so we aren't caught flat-footed,” a source familiar with the discussions told the outlet.
Possible SCOTUS fight brewing:
If Ginsburg were to depart, Trump would be able to nominate his third Supreme Court justice. Ronald Reagan is the only president to have placed three judges on the Supreme Court in a single term.
"It would be a brutal confirmation,” John Malcolm, the director of the Heritage Foundation's Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, told Politico. “The first two were not easy at all, but this would be much harder in this respect: When Neil Gorsuch was the nominee, you were replacing a conservative with a conservative. With Kavanaugh, you were replacing the perennial swing voter, who more times than not sided with the so-called conservative wing, so that slightly solidified the conservative wing.”
“But if you are replacing Justice Ginsburg with a Trump appointee, that would be akin to replacing Thurgood Marshall with Clarence Thomas,” he added. “It would mark a large shift in the direction of the court."
Ginsburg vows to stay on as long as possible:
"I said I will do this job as long as I can do it full steam," Ginsburg said last month.
CNN previously reported that she has already hired new law clerks for at least two terms, suggesting she plans to stay on the court until at least 2020.
She told CNN that she wants to stay on the bench for “at least five more years.”
"I'm now 85," Ginsburg said. "My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so I think I have about at least five more years."