Most liberals aren't ready to push Ruth Bader Ginsburg off the bench -- yet

Conservatives aren't the only ones who think the Supreme Court justice should retire only when she's ready

By Jenny Kutner
Published October 3, 2014 2:11PM (EDT)
  (AP/Ron Edmonds)
(AP/Ron Edmonds)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has already made clear that she's not planning on stepping down from the Supreme Court anytime soon, and most liberals think that's okay. According to a new poll by YouGov and the Huffington Post, a plurality of Americans agree that it should be up to Ginsburg when she steps down, despite a rising number of calls -- especially from the left -- for the 81-year-old jurist to retire.

Many have argued that stepping down during Obama's second term would allow the president to nominate a liberal justice like Ginsburg. She, however, doesn't believe that to be very likely. "Who do you think President Obama could appoint at this very day, given the boundaries that we have?" Ginsburg said in a recent interview with Elle. "If I resign any time this year, he could not successfully appoint anyone I would like to see in the court."

For the most part, Americans seem to agree. 49 percent of poll respondents said Ginsburg should retire whenever she's ready, while just 29 percent said she should step down during Obama's presidency so he can nominate a liberal justice in her place. Unsurprisingly, conservatives and Republicans were most likely to say that Ginsburg should step down when she wants -- but the sentiment held among many liberals, too. While a plurality of Democrats and progressives sided against Ginsburg, only 47 percent said she needs to go; 42 percent believe she should retire when she wants, regardless of who occupies the White House.

The area where respondents showed the most consensus, however, had little to do with Ginsburg in particular: Most Americans favor limited terms for Supreme Court justices, and oppose the continuation of lifetime appointments. Only a quarter of people believe justices should be able to serve for life, while 57 percent want to see term limits.


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