Will Sonia Sotomayor Heed the Call of Leftists and Retire from the Supreme Court at 69 Years Old?

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Is the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court about to change? It may, if certain elements of the left get their way.

Ahead of the 2024 election, there are growing calls for Justice Sonia Sotomayor to retire, so that President Joe Biden can nominate her replacement and ensure conservatives do not increase their majority on the court.

On Thursday’s show, Megyn was joined by attorneys Dave Aronberg and Mike Davis to discuss the push and whether or not Sotomayor is going anywhere.

Calls to Retire

Former MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan wrote an op-ed for The Guardian earlier this week in which he called on Sotomayor to step down. In the piece titled “For the sake of all of us, Sonia Sotomayor needs to retire from the US supreme court,” he explored the reasons why the justice should hang up her robe despite being, in Hasan’s words, “the greatest liberal to sit on the Supreme Court” in his lifetime.

Hasan pointed out that Sotomayor – who was nominated to the court by former President Barack Obama in 2009 to replace retiring Justice David Souter – is “the first Latina to hold the position of justice” and “has blazed a relentlessly progressive trail on the highest bench in the land.”

Even so, he thinks it is time for her to go. Why? Lingering nightmares over the death of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Hasan noted that Ginsburg refused to retire during Obama’s second term despite surviving two bouts of cancer. Instead, she died in 2020 at the age of 87 and was succeeded on the court by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a Trump nominee. 

According to Hasan, Sotomayor, who will turn 70 in June, “has had type 1 diabetes since she was seven; had paramedics called to her home; and is the only sitting justice to have, reportedly, traveled with a medic.” For those reasons, he is apparently concerned she may not survive a second Trump term that would end in 2029.

Hassan said this has nothing to do with Sotomayor’s “race” or gender,” as he made similar calls in 2021 for then-Justice Stephen Breyer to retire (he did and was succeeded by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson). Rather, he is looking to save the high court from a 7 to 2 conservative majority because he is, among other things, “so worried about the future of minority rights in this country.”

The Reaction

Thus far, Sotomayor has not responded to the op-ed, and the White House called her retirement “a personal decision.” But Hasan is not alone in his thinking. “He’s not the only one,” Megyn noted. “This is a trend that’s growing louder amongst Dems who are terrified, given the polls, that Trump is going to win… [and] have another Supreme Court appointment.”

In an NBC News article by Sahil Kapur and Lawrence Hurley, many prominent Democrats stopped short of explicitly backing Hasan’s call, though Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) cautioned another Trump-nominated justice could “empower the court’s ‘extremist wing.'”

NBC News also pointed out that there are some “obvious differences” between the Ginsburg and Sotomayor situations. “In 2014, Ginsburg was 12 years older than Sotomayor is now,” Kapur and Hurley wrote. “Ginsburg, in 2014, had served on the court for 21 years. Sotomayor will reach her 15-year milestone in August.”

The piece does note, however, that Sotomayor reportedly said she was “tired” and working harder than ever during a recent appearance in California. “And to be almost 70 years old, this wasn’t what I expected,” she said, according to Bloomberg Law.

In Aronberg’s view, Sotomayor is facing these calls because of the way Ginsburg handled her exit. “You can see why Democrats are calling for somebody to step down,” he said. “They still have PTSD over the whole Ruth Bader Ginsburg thing, and that’s what is going on right now.”

Regardless, Megyn does not believe the Sotomayor will heed the calls. “I don’t think she’s going anywhere,” she concluded. “Not at age 70.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Aronberg and Davis by tuning in to episode 758 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.