Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the five members who constitute the pro-abortion majority on the nation’s highest court, insists she will not retire anytime soon. Her decision could set up a 2012 election opportunity for the pro-life movement.
The 78-year-old former ACLU attorney is the oldest member of the court, which paved the way for 53 million abortions following the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Despite battling advancing age and numerous health issues, an AP report indicates Ginsburg has said she has no plans to retire from the court until at least 2015, when she will turn 82. That’s the age at which Justice Louis Brandeis, like Ginsburg a Jewish justice, retired.
Meanwhile, despite undergoing surgery two years ago for pancreatic cancer, Ginsburg shows no signs of reducing her caseload or leaving the court. She also told AP she wants to stay on the high court until she receives back a painting by the German emigre Josef Albers that normally hangs in her office but is currently on a nationwide traveling art exhibition.
Ginsburg has also said she wanted to stay on the high court until more women were appointed to it, and Obama has added pro-abortion Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, whom Ginsburg likely wants to mentor and work with before she retires. And the recent death of Ginsburg’s husband makes it so some suggest she likely wants to remain involved with the Supreme Court instead of retreating into solitary private life.
The decision to not retire anytime soon complicates the presidential election as abortion advocates need Ginsburg to remain on the court to keep legalized abortion on demand throughout pregnancy in place. Should President Barack Obama win the 2012 election, there is a virtual guarantee she will retire during his second term — paving the way for another justice committed to keeping unlimited abortions for any reason legal.
However, if pro-life advocates secure a presidential election victory for a pro-life Republican challenger, Ginsburg may be forced to leave the high court and allow the nomination of someone who is open to reversing Roe and paving the way for legal protections for unborn children to replace her.
That possibility should heighten the importance of the 2012 presidential election for any pro-life advocate — making it clear that replacing President Barack Obama with a pro-life president is the number one objective for setting the stage for protecting women and unborn children from abortion. Without a change in the Supreme Court — which requires a pro-life president to move the court from its current solid pro-abortion foothold — none of the various objectives of the pro-life movement can be realized. A human life amendment, a ban on abortions, a personhood amendment, or overturning Roe and allowing states to ban abortions — none of these pro-life objectives can be attained without a shift in the makeup of the nation’s highest and most influential court.
Last year, Ginsburg said she was confident the Supreme Court will never overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that resulted in unlimited abortions in the United States. She said doing so would hurt poor people who supposedly have no other resource during an unplanned pregnancy. Participating in a discussion during the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, Ginsburg said the infamous decision that allowed more than 53 million abortions won’t be overturned because women and society have gotten used to it.
“Over a generation of young women have grown up, understanding they can control their own reproductive capacity, and in fact their life’s destiny,” Ginsburg said, according to a Politico report. “We will never go back to the way it once was.”
“If people realize that, maybe they will have a different attitude,” she said of supposed reasons why poor women need abortions.
Ginsburg’s comments on abortion and its availability for poor women were not surprising given how she was taken to task in 2009 for her comments about the Roe v. Wade abortion case that appeared racist.
In a July 2009 interview with the New York Times, Ginsburg said she once supported Roe for population control reasons targeting minorities. Ginsburg first advocated taxpayer funding of abortions and followed it up by saying she backs Roe to eliminate “populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”
“Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious,” she says.
Reporter Emily Bazelon then asked Ginsburg a question about what she meant and Ginsburg responded that she referred to the 1980 Harris v. McRae ruling upholding the Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal taxpayer funding of abortions, surprised her.
“Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong,” Ginsburg said.
Roe is the 1973 Supreme Court decision that, along with Doe v. Bolton, allowed virtually unlimited abortions for any reason throughout pregnancy.