Left-Wing Pressure Mounts on Justice Sotomayor to Retire: ‘Graveyards Are Full of Indispensable People’


Mehdi Hazan, a columnist at The Guardian, says some voices on the left want Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was appointed in 2009 under Democrat Barack Obama’s administration, to retire. Hasan argues the 69-year-old Sotomayor should retire to prevent her seat from being filled by a far-right conservative under a Republican president. Hasan and the progressive left are concerned about a repeat of what happened when former President Donald Trump appointed Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which led to a conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

Hasan expresses concern over Sonia Sotomayor, who will be 70 years old in June. She also mentions her age and health, highlighting that she’s had type 1 diabetes from childhood. In 2018, paramedics were called to her house. Hasan claims that a conservative 7-2 majority with a “hard right” would harm minorities, particularly women and Latinas. Hasan then cites the pressure that was put on Justice Stephen Breyer by former President Bill Clinton to retire. He deemed a certain retirement age to be beneficial for a type of ideological public interest.

Conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Sotomayor are indeed older, but as usual, this isn’t about their well-being. This is just ideology. In a speech at UC Berkeley, the senior liberal of the court cited this as the reason for her to remain in her seat.

Sotomayor stated:

“I am frustrated. As you have heard, I am traumatized by every loss. But I must get up and continue fighting the next day.”

The Democrats in the Senate Judiciary Committee have a quieter approach despite a flood of op/eds, legal analyses, and academic articles calling for Justice to retire.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, (D-CT), stopped short of calling her to retire, but issued a caution, saying:

I have great respect for Justice Sotomayor. She is someone I admire greatly. I do think that she should weigh all the factors. We need to learn from this. It’s no secret what we should learn. It’s true what they say — graveyards contain many indispensable people. This includes us in this body.

While not calling for Sotomayor to retire, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island warned against empowering the “extremist wing”.

In an interview, the Whitehouse said:

If you increase it to 7-2, then your court will be a MAGA court. If Justice Ginsburg could do it all over again, I’m sure she would have reconsidered her confidence in herself.

The White House has opted to remain hands-off in the campaign to pressure Sotomoher into retiring and being replaced.

In a Wednesday press briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre said:

“These are personal decisions regardless if Justice Sotomayor is on the bench or not. This is their decision. It’s again a personal choice. We don’t get involved, but this is a matter for any judge. The judge should have the freedom and space to make this decision.”

There are no signs that Justice Sotomayor will retire any time soon, despite her recent comments on Berkeley’s Campus about being “tired” of working and feeling more motivated than ever.