When the Supreme Court convened for the first time in 2019, there was one conspicuously empty seat. Usually, nine black-robed justices grace the bench when oral arguments begin. This time, however, there were only eight. Missing was 85-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
As most of us know by now, the 85-year-old justice underwent emergency surgery right after Christmas to remove malignant tumors from her lungs. The cancer was discovered during scans for broken ribs she sustained in a November fall.
Ginsburg, who has served 23 years on the highest court in the land, has never before missed oral arguments. So, when she was unexpectedly absent on Monday, it raised eyebrows all across the country. Concerns were amplified when no statement was shared about how she is faring during her recuperation.
Her spokesperson has emphasized that the ailing justice will be 'working from home' but is not strong enough yet to attend sessions in person. It is thought that Ginsburg will be given written copies of the briefs so she can study them and vote from her sick bed.
In what may have just been a huge misunderstanding, many people expected Ms. Ginsburg to miss ONLY the first day, yet that is not at all what happened. The bed-ridden SCOTUS justice has just missed her third full day of the job, and the public has begun speculating that this very well may be her 'swan song.'
Her most recent injury and diagnosis notwithstanding, not many public servants continue in their positions to the ripe age of 85. For years, media and the public alike have been wondering if or when she will retire. Certainly, no one could blame her if she went that route.
Indeed, the entire nation would not only thank her for her dedicated service but also wish her a happy, healthy retirement if she decides to step down.
Just in case her health takes its toll, President Trump is said to be delicately looking into finding a replacement for Ginsburg, should the need arise.
Although she is the oldest justice on the current court, Ginsburg is by no means the oldest to ever serve on the SCOTUS. That honor goes to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. who retired at the age of 90 years and ten months.
So, your guess is as good as mine when it comes to what the lively octogenarian will do. I can only imagine, however, that if her absence is too long, pressure on her to retire will undoubtedly come to bear.
After all, the court has an odd number of justices for a reason: so there will never be a tie on a decision, which would put important cases in jeopardy.
Regardless of what lies ahead for Justice Ginsburg's health, you can be certain that she is getting a lot of political pressure to either retire (the Right) or stick it out no matter what (the Left). As with most things, time will tell...
Please continue to pray for a good outcome for Ms. Ginsburg, and that she will make the decision that is best for her health and the well-being of her family.