Trump White House preparing for possible RBG departure: Report

January 11, 2019 - 2:40 pm

WASHINGTON (1010 WINS/AP) -- The Trump administration has been laying the groundwork for the departure of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to published reports.

The wheels were set in motion Monday, after Ginsburg, 85, missed oral arguments for the first time in her 25 year tenure on the bench.

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The court's oldest justice had surgery three weeks ago to remove cancerous growths on her left lung. She was released from the hospital in New York four days later and has been recuperating at home since then.

Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg says that doctors confirmed an initial evaluation that found no evidence of remaining cancer following surgery. The Supreme Court says Ginsburg's recovery from cancer surgery is "on track" and no further treatment is required. But the justice will miss court arguments next week.

A source familiar with the situation told Politico that the White House has been 'taking the temperature on possible short-list candidates.'

"They're doing it very quietly, of course, because the idea is not to be opportunistic, but just to be prepared so we aren't caught flat-footed," the source said.

The 9 member court is weighted 5-4 to the conservative side, but a Ginsburg departure would open the door to a potentially strong conservative majority.

In October, Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed under heated opposition from Democrats.

"It would be a brutal confirmation,” John Malcolm, director of the Heritage Foundation's Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies told Politico. “The first two were not easy at all, but this would be much harder in this respect: When Neil Gorsuch was the nominee, you were replacing a conservative with a conservative. With Kavanaugh, you were replacing the perennial swing voter, who more times than not sided with the so-called conservative wing, so that slightly solidified the conservative wing.”

“But if you are replacing Justice Ginsburg with a Trump appointee, that would be akin to replacing Thurgood Marshall with Clarence Thomas,” Malcolm added. “It would mark a large shift in the direction of the court."

Sources say many of the names on the shortlist to replace Ginsburg are women including' Seventh Circuit judge Amy Coney Barrett, Sixth Circuit Judges Joan Larsen, and Amul Thapar, Eleventh Circuit judge Britt Grant, and Neomi Rao.