Senate Democrats Express Confusion Over Calls for Sotomayor’s Resignation

Senate Democrats are saying no to requests for Justice Sonia Sotomayor to leave the Supreme Court. Some people on the left have been saying she should step down to prevent a situation like what happened when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died four years ago.

Sotomayor, who is 69, is the oldest of the liberal justices. Some progressive voices want her to resign while the Democrats control the White House and the Senate. They compare it to when Ginsburg didn’t step down in 2014, even though then-President Obama could have picked a successor. When Ginsburg passed away in 2020, it gave former President Trump a chance to appoint a new justice and make the court more conservative.

Some folks who want Sotomayor to resign are worried about her health because she has Type-1 diabetes. But Democrats don’t think she should leave the court just yet.

“She’s not 70. I might remind some of my colleagues to look around, check their birth certificate[s],” said Sen. Peter Welch, a Democrat. “She’s going full speed ahead. I’m not aware of significant issues, and I am aware of extraordinary competence.”

Senate Democrats Express Confusion Over Calls for Sotomayor's Resignation
Sonia Sotomayor (Credits: NR)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin also said he wants her to stay on the court.

Many Democrats are surprised that people are even talking about this. Sotomayor hasn’t shown any signs that she’s thinking about leaving or that her health has changed recently.

“I think she’s doing a great job, and I think she should stay. I’m a little baffled by [the chatter],” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

Senate Democrats Express Confusion Over Calls for Sotomayor's Resignation
(Credits: Financial Times)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren called the talk “nonsense” and said she didn’t know where it came from. “I don’t want to add any fuel to the fire on this. I think she’s doing a great job, and I am grateful for her public service,” Warren said.

The idea of Sotomayor stepping down got more attention after Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Democrats should learn from what happened with Ginsburg. Ginsburg was replaced by Justice Amy Coney Barrett shortly before the 2020 election.

Republicans are watching closely. If they win big in the elections next year, they could have more power to influence the Supreme Court.

Senate Democrats Express Confusion Over Calls for Sotomayor's Resignation
Sonia Sotomayor (Credits: ThoughtCo)

Democrats understand the concern but don’t think it’s time for Sotomayor to go. “The reality is if we do get a Trump presidency, we’re going to get another outrageous Supreme Court pick, so it’s not [an unfounded concern]. But I don’t think it’s necessary in the case of Sotomayor,” Welch said.

There are differences between Sotomayor’s situation now and Ginsburg’s a decade ago. Ginsburg was 82 in 2014 — 13 years older than Sotomayor is now.

Sotomayor has said that the workload has gotten heavier over time and that she feels “tired” because of the big cases. “And to be almost 70 years old, this isn’t what I expected,” Sotomayor said. “But it is still work that is all-consuming, and I understand the impact the court has on people and on the country, and sometimes the world. And so it is what keeps me going.”

The idea of Sotomayor resigning also upset groups who want her to stay. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus said she has been a “brilliant jurist” and they want her to keep serving on the Court.

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