Failed Efforts to Get RBG and Breyer To Retire During the Obama Administration
President Trump was able to appoint two Justices in his first two years. He inherited the first vacancy after Justice Scalia died. But he had to work the second vacancy. His administration took specific steps to help Justice Kennedy off the Court, and open the seat for Justice Kavanaugh.
President Obama was also able to appoint two Justices in his first two years. In 2009, Justice Souter resigned. He never liked Washington, D.C. And in 2010, Justice Stevens resigned in light of concerns over his health. Between 2010 and 2014, the Democrats controlled the Senate. During this period, there were many public calls for Justice Ginsburg and Justice Breyer to step down.
Now, the New York Times reports that there were also private overtures to open up those two seats.
First, we learn that Senator Pat Leahy tried to use his personal relationship with Ginsburg to nudge her to retire. The timing of this meeting was unclear, but it happened “several years” before 2013.
Several senior White House staff members say they heard word that Senator Leahy had gingerly approached the subject with her several years before the Obama lunch in .
He was then the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees Supreme Court nominations; he also had a warm relationship with Justice Ginsburg, a bond forged over their shared enjoyment of opera and visits to the Kennedy Center. Asked through a spokesman for comment, Mr. Leahy did not respond.
But Leahy’s efforts failed:
One of the former Obama administration staff members who heard discussion of the roundabout outreach by Mr. Leahy was Rob Nabors, who served in a series of White House policy and legislative affairs positions under Mr. Obama from 2009 to 2014. But Mr. Nabors said he recalled hearing that “it wasn’t clear that the message was entirely transmitted effectively, or that it was received in the manner it was delivered.”
Come on. RBG understood the conversation. She knew what Leahy was trying to convey. She wasn’t interested.
Second, in 2013, President Obama asked his White House counsel to set up a meeting with RBG.
When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined President Barack Obama for lunch in his private dining room in July 2013, the White House sought to keep the event quiet — the meeting called for discretion.
Mr. Obama had asked his White House counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, to set up the lunch so he could build a closer rapport with the justice, according to two people briefed on the conversation.
Obama was too tactful to outright ask her to step down. Instead, he hinted that the Democrats may lose the Senate in 2014.
Treading cautiously, he did not directly bring up the subject of retirement to Justice Ginsburg, a
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