Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is fired up and not ready to go anywhere.
In a candid interview published Sunday in The New York Times, the judge vowed to continue her work, health-permitting, as the senior liberal leader on what she described as “one of the most activist courts in history.”
Ginsburg, a two-time cancer survivor, said she plans to keep plugging away as long as she “can do the job full steam.” While she declared her water skiing days officially over, the 80-year-old said she’s in good health now.
She noted she will not let the president’s schedule dictate her own, despite pressure from liberals who want her to step down before President Obama’s second term ends.
“I love my job,” said Ginsburg, who was appointed to the bench in 1993 by President Clinton. “There will be a president after this one, and I’m hopeful that that president will be a fine president.”
In theory, Obama would presumably appoint a left-leaning judge as a replacement. But if a Republican gets elected to the Oval Office in 2016, there’s a greater likelihood of a shift in the balance of power towards conservatives for years to come. As Obama’s term nears an end, the pressure on Ginsburg to retire may increase.
“If it’s measured in terms of readiness to overturn legislation, this is one of the most activist courts in history,” she said of the atmosphere under Chief Justice John Roberts.
The Supreme Court has issued rulings on landmark cases in recent years, including the Affordable Care Act and the Defense of Marriage Act.
She called the decision to effectively gut a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act “stunning in terms of activism.” And she said she regrets joining a 2009 opinion which helped lay the framework for June’s controversial VRA ruling.
For a long time, the fight against judicial activism has been a rallying cry for conservatives.
A recent study showed the Roberts court has been handing down conservative-leaning decisions about 71% of the time–the highest rate since 1953.
That’s not to say Ginsburg and her conservative colleagues on the bench don’t get along. While they may take different ideological approaches, she has been friends with Justice Antonin Scalia for more than 20 years. They share a love of the opera, have gone on vacation to India and their families have a tradition of spending New Year’s Eve together.