Ruth Bader Ginsburg: No Retirement Before 2012 Elections

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seemed to make it clear last night that she has no intention of retiring before the 2012 elections:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said on Thursday evening that she will not retire from the court before 2012 and hinted that she might serve until she’s at least 83 years old in 2016.

Ginsburg was interviewed by NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg at the Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The topic of the discussion was Ginsburg’s life before and after becoming a Supreme Court justice.

“I am constantly asked, ‘Is Justice Ginsburg going to retire soon?'” Totenberg asked. “So, I will ask you that. Do you have any plans for your retirement?”

Ginsburg, who was born on March 15, 1933, will turn 78 next month. “I will give the answer that I just gave to you, Nina, a few moments ago,” Ginsburg said. “One of the nice perks about this job is that we get to choose paintings from the storage supply of the National Gallery, the Museum of American Art, the Hirshhorn.

“I had a wonderful painting from the Museum of American Art by Josef Albers,” said Ginsburg. “It was taken away for a traveling exhibition and I’m told that it will come back to me sometime in 2012. So I am certainly not going to retire before I get my Albers back. Another answer I can give you is I was appointed at age 60, the same age that Louis Bidenz Brandeis was when he was appointed the court. He stayed until he was 83. So I do have a way to go.”

Ginsburg will be 83 on March 15, 2016. (Louis Brandeis retired from the Court at the age of 83 in 1939.)

There had been some speculation that Ginsburg might retire at the end of the Court’s current term, but that would be appear to be out the window. Additionally it seems unlikely that any of the other Justices would voluntarily leave any time soon.

For reference hears a list of Justices ranked by age:

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg — 77 years old
  • Antonin Scalia — 74 years old
  • Anthony Kennedy — 74 years old
  • Stephen Breyer — 72 years old
  • Clarence Thomas — 62 years old
  • Samuel Alito — 60 years old
  • Sonia Sotomayor — 56 years old
  • John Roberts — 56 years old
  • Elena Kagan — 50 years old

Absent health issues, I doubt we’ll see a retirement beforethe 2012-2013 term.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. wr says:

    Wow, I’ve rarely had a good word to say for Scalia, but he looks good for 74!