Obama tries to motivate Democrats with Supreme Court warning

President Obama makes a statement on the situation in Iraq at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, on August 11, 2014.


Attempting to mobilize donors at a Democratic fundraiser Monday night, President Obama suggested that some Supreme Court justices may soon step down.

"What's preventing us from getting things done right now is you've got a faction within the Republican Party that thinks solely in terms of their own ideological purposes and solely in terms of how do they hang on to power. And that's a problem," Mr. Obama said at the Tisbury, Mass., home of Roger H. Brown, president of the Berklee College of Music.

"And that's why I need a Democratic Senate. Not to mention the fact that we're going to have Supreme Court appointments."

Four of the nine Supreme Court justices are over 70 years old, but none has suggested they have plans to retire soon. Liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the oldest justice on the court at 81, recently made clear she in fact plans to stay on the court for as long as possible. She suggested that even under the Senate's current Democratic control, Mr. Obama wouldn't be able to successfully nominate a liberal to the court.

"So tell me who the president could have nominated this spring that you would rather see on the court than me?" Ginsburg said last month in an interview with Reuters.

Ginsburg did acknowledge to Reuters that in an unusual move, Mr. Obama invited her to a private lunch at the White House last year. However, she said, "I don't think he was fishing" for hints about her potential retirement.

The justice also told Reuters that she hasn't "slowed down," even after surviving two bouts with cancer in 1999 and 2009.

Ginsburg similarly told the Associated Press last month, "Right now, I don't see any sign that I'm less able to do the job."

Senate Democrats last year changed the Senate rules so that lower court appointments may be approved by a majority vote; however, under the rules Democrats set, Supreme Court appointments could still be subject to filibusters.