Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ruined any hope President Donald Trump might have had that she would quit before the end of his term, announcing Thursday that she hired a full slate of clerks through 2020.
The announcement disproves ongoing speculation that Ginsburg, 84, is close to retirement: Normally, justices planning on retiring don’t hire all of their clerks for the coming term. Ginsburg’s include Alyssa Barnard, who is a Columbia Law graduate; Harvard Law grads Marco Basile and Susan Pelletier; and a Stanford Law grad, Michael Qian.
Ginsburg’s resignation would be a political gift to Trump, who’s so excited to fill an empty Supreme Court seat that he’s already released the names of potential nominees for a vacancy that doesn’t exist. Trump is particularly eager to witness the end of Ginsburg’s tenure ever since the self-named “flaming feminist litigator” spoke out against him in his 2016 presidential campaign.
“I can’t imagine what this place would be—I can’t imagine what the country would be—with Donald Trump as our president,” she said to The New York Times that July. Later, she accurately called Trump a “faker” and said he “really has an ego.”
Trump was upset by this due to his thin skin and childish mindset, and called for Ginsburg to resign following these comments, insulting her “dumb political statements” and hypocritically saying they meant that her “mind is shot.” Ginsburg later apologized for bashing the then-candidate, and ever since he’s taken office, she’s been subtle about her criticism of Trump and his train-wreck of a presidency.
“We’re not experiencing the best of times,” she said in a February interview with BBC’s “Newsnight.”
Ginsburg’s first big chance to rule on an issue at the heart of Trump’s agenda is still pending, as the country waits for the Supreme Court’s decision on Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which is a case dealing with whether bigoted Americans can lawfully deny services to same-sex couples on the basis of their religious beliefs and free speech.
Justice Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot – resign!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 13, 2016
During her time on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg has been hailed as a defender of liberal ideals and women’s rights. Her first major ruling happened in 1996, three years after her appointment, when she wrote the decision on United States v. Virginia, which let women attend the previously men’s-only Virginia Military Institute. More recently, Ginsburg was involved in the 2016 majority decision on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case which was brought to the court after a Texas law closed half the abortion clinics in the state.
Ginsburg’s supporters see the “Notorious RBG” as one of the final defenses against Trump’s hateful agenda, and are often concerned about Ginsburg’s well-being.
“If you have any need for blood, you can have the eight or so units of A-positive that are right here in my body,” a Washington Post columnist said to Ginsburg in February. “There’s also a gently used liver in here, lobes of it just lying around if you need them.”
Ginsburg has made it clear that she intends to stay on the bench “as long as I can do it full steam,” the Times reported.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, has also been a source of speculation about who is next to leave the court—and he has not yet chosen his picks for clerks. Kennedy is reportedly unlikely to stay on the Supreme Court for Trump’s entire term, but has also said he wouldn’t resign for “at least” another year.
In any case, Kennedy is not the only member of the Supreme Court with outstanding clerk hires: The only other justices to have decided on any of their 2019 clerks are Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Stephen G. Breyer and Trump’s choice, Neil M. Gorsuch.