Ginsburg: Court Opening Coming 'Soon'
By Robert Barnes
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told law students in Boston Friday that there might be an opening on the Supreme Court "soon," but did not indicate when it might come nor who might be leaving.
Ginsburg was answering questions from students at New England School of Law when she said that the nine justices only take pictures together when a new member is added, according to an Associated Press report. "We haven't had any of those for some time, but surely we will soon," Ginsburg said, according to the report.
She did not take questions from reporters at the event, so it was unclear whether Ginsburg had specific knowledge or was simply acknowledging the aging of the court.
Ginsburg, who turns 76 on Sunday, has said recently that she has no plans to leave. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last month, but her doctors said the cancer was detected early and had not spread beyond the tiny tumor they removed, along with her spleen. Ginsburg was on the bench less than three weeks later without missing a court session, and has had an active schedule since then.
She has specifically mentioned as a role model on the court the tenure of Justice Louis Brandeis, who, like Ginsburg, was appointed to the court when he was 60. He served until he was 82.
Speculation about a departure has also centered on two of Ginsburg's fellow liberals on the court, John Paul Stevens, who will turn 89 next month, and 69-year-old David H. Souter. But neither has mentioned the possibility.
Souter alone among the justices apparently has not hired clerks for the next term. On the other hand, he is usually the last to make hires, and normally chooses clerks in late spring for the term that begins in October.
Souter made a rare public address to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences earlier this week, but did not mention his future on the court.
Souter prefers his home in New Hampshire to life in Washington, which Ginsburg alluded to in her remarks to the law students. She said Souter recently escorted her to the opera, in place of her ailing husband.
"He never goes out, so people were amazed to see him," Ginsburg said, according to the Boston Globe.
Ginsburg, who survived colon cancer 10 years ago, said advice from fellow cancer survivor and retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on when to schedule chemotherapy has helped her keep up with the court's pace, the AP reported.
"She said when you're up to chemotherapy, you do it on Friday, Friday afternoon. You'll get over it over the weekend and you'll be able to come to the court on Monday," said Ginsburg, who added O'Connor returned to work nine days after being treated for breast cancer. "So I've been following her advice meticulously."
Posted at 5:03 PM ET on Mar 13, 2009
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