With her recent health problems causing her to miss the first day of arguments, the White House is reportedly getting prepared to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. According to Politico, government leaders are reaching out to "key stakeholders" and making sure that everyone is ready for a confirmation battle, if necessary.
The 85-year-old justice recently had cancerous lesions removed from her lungs, and though doctors say that there doesn't appear to be any of the disease remaining, Ginsburg was forced to miss the first day of oral arguments of 2018. This caused the White House to start preparing for a second confirmation battle to replace the justice if her health should continue to decline, according to four anonymous sources.
Since Ginsburg is back at work and back to her impressive workout routine, the White House is stepping carefully.
"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," said one source.
John Malcolm, the director of the Heritage Foundations' Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, spoke to Politico, saying that the first two Trump nominations faced an uphill battle, but replacing Ginsburg would be even tougher.
"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," he said.
"But if you are replacing Justice Ginsburg with a Trump appointee, that would be akin to replacing Thurgood Marshall with Clarence Thomas," Malcolm added. "It would mark a large shift in the direction of the court."Currently, the court is divided between conservative-leaning and progressive-leaning judges 5 to 4. if Trump were able to replace Ginsburg with a conservative, it would create a decided majority.
Because of this, the White House is expecting an intense battle should the opportunity to replace a liberal judge arise. Reportedly, it has asked key players like the Judicial Crisis Network and the Federalist Society executive vice president Leonard Leo to stay prepared. The White House currently has a shortlist ready of nominees, including Amy Coney Barrett, who was on the list to replace retired justice Anthony Kennedy.
Ginsburg and the Supreme Court haven't commented on the justice's plans for the future, but a year ago, Ginsburg told the Los Angeles Times that she would stick around as long as she was able to do the job to the best of her ability.