Does Obama Know Something We Don't About Supreme Court Retirements?

President Barack Obama greets Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg prior to his State of the Union address in front of a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. President Barack Obama greets Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg prior to his State of the Union address in front of a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. Saul Loeb/Associated Press

President Obama may not be buying Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's insistence that she won't be retiring from the Supreme Court anytime soon.

Speaking to donors at a fundraiser in Boston on Monday, the president seemed to suggest that he expects another Supreme Court justice to retire during his final two years in office, as he made clear how important it was that Democrats retain control of the Senate.

Not to mention the fact that we’re going to have Supreme Court appointments, and there are going to be a whole host of issues that many people here care about that are going to be determined by whether or not Democrats retain the Senate."

A White House spokesman told The Wire on Tuesday that Obama's comments "were meant to convey the important role the Senate would play in the event of a Supreme Court vacancy. They were not in reference to a specific vacancy."

That is expected, as presidents rarely weigh in on potential judicial retirements before they happen, lest they be accused of trying to push an elderly judge with a lifetime appointment off the bench.

But speculation about the 81-year-old Ginsburg has been raging in political circles since shortly after Obama's re-election. Nominated to the high court by President Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg is a two-time cancer survivor and had surgery to remove a tumor in her pancreas in 2009. With conservatives likely one vote away from being able to overturn Roe v. Wade,some liberal writers have publicly called on Ginsburg to retire soon to ensure that Obama – and not a potential Republican successor – can appoint her replacement.

Ginsburg is having none of it.

She has gone on a rare publicity tour since the Supreme Court ended its session in June, and she bluntly told Katie Couric in a Yahoo News interview last month that she had no plans to retire.

"All I can say is that I am still here and likely to remain for a while," she said.

A Republican takeover of the Senate after November could severely restrict the pool of candidates that Obama could get confirmed. But perhaps instead of Ginsburg retiring, he is actually hoping that his 78-year-old conservative bete noir, Antonin Scalia, decides to take up golf.

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