For years, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg batted away pleas for her to retire from the nation’s highest court while Democrats controlled the White House and the Senate, saying that concerns about her health and age were much ado about nothing.
“Tell me who the president could have nominated this spring,” she told a reporter in 2014, “that you would rather see on the court than me?”
Court-watchers know what happened next: Democrats lost the Senate four months later and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) scuttled attempts to put any nominee on the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia until a new president was elected, which gave President Donald Trump the ability to name Scalia’s replacement. Ginsburg, despite her advancing age and battles with pancreatic and lung cancers, continued to serve on the bench until she passed away 46 days before the 2020 presidential election. Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to replace her—cementing the Supreme Court’s conservative majority for years, and putting much of Ginsburg’s own judicial legacy at risk of being undone.