Democrats, worried they could lose control of the Senate to the GOP in November, are hoping that liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will retire in time for President Barack Obama to appoint a successor.
"There's a real chance the Republicans are going to take the Senate," Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California, Irvine, told The Hill.
"If the Republicans take the Senate, then the ability of President Obama to get a nominee confirmed for the court is going to be much more limited."
Ginsburg has been a popular champion of liberal causes, most recently, leading on the dissent in last week's 5-4 Hobby Lobby ruling,
which exempted the chain of arts-and-crafts stores from Obamacare's contraceptive mandate on religious grounds.
At 81, Ginsburg is the court's oldest member and she has battled a number of health issues, including colon and pancreatic cancer. Liberals fear time is running out to ensure the selection and confirmation of a comparable ideological replacement.
"There are a lot of people who think that Ginsburg should resign so that Obama could appoint someone new and should do it sooner rather than later," Mike Lux, a Democratic strategist who declined to say whether he thinks Ginsburg should step down, told The Hill.
But even if Ginsburg retired immediately, it could be too late for the Democrat-controlled Senate to achieve a confirmation, particularly given the difficulties Obama had in achieving other confirmations obstructed by the GOP in the past year.
In addition, tensions with Republicans are still running high after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ended filibusters to push through a number of Obama's controversial confirmations.
"Republicans would do whatever they could to throw their bodies in the way of having to vote before the November election," Robert Borosage, co-director of Campaign for America’s Future, told The Hill.
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