Sotomayor’s Retirement Debate Sparks Discussion on Sexism, Ageism, and Ableism

(California Daily Journal) Joseph Saveri Law Firm, LLP associate Itak Moradi has authored “Sotomayor’s Retirement Debate Sparks Discussion on Sexism, Ageism, and Ableism,” an article that appeared in the June 19, 2024, California Daily Journal legal newspaper. Itak analyzed recent calls for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to retire due to political, health, and age considerations. She also explored how this predicament resides within the broader need for reforms to the SCOTUS justice selection process and the Court’s lack of term limits. 

The full article is available here, excerpted below: 

“Over the last several months, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who turns 70 this month and has underlying health conditions, has faced growing calls to retire. This has sparked a debate about whether these requests are sexist, ageist or ableist, or just practical. It also begs the question of how to address a more fundamental anxiety about reforming the bench altogether. 

The liberal commentators and Democrats leading the charge for her retirement cite one reason. If Sotomayor becomes unfit to serve before another Democratic president is elected, the current SCOTUS 6-3 conservative majority will likely grow to an unprecedented 7-2. With Biden’s current election polling and the fear that Democrats may give up an already-slim control of the Senate, they believe the party should heed lessons learned from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s decision to not resign when President Obama was in office. After rejecting years of calls for her retirement, Ginsburg passed in September 2020. Donald Trump, in just eight days, appointed his third nominee to the Court, Amy Coney Barrett. Barret cast a deciding vote to overturn Roe v. Wade less than two years later, and there has been a string of debilitating civil rights rulings since....” 

“How much does our confidence in this institution need to wane before we finally enact structural, democratically imposed change? Instead of experiencing this periodic – and more frequent – dread, we should focus on the roadblocks in the way of proceeding with at least one of the solutions we have already identified: expanding the court, enacting term limits, or imposing a retirement age. 

Today, 70% of the public disapproves of the Supreme Court. Trust in the institution is at an all-time low. Questioning whether it is ageist, sexist, or anything else to ask anyone with a lifetime appointment to retire seems like avoiding bigger questions about the stability of our democratic institutions.”  

The Daily Journal Corporation, a Los Angeles-based publishing and technology company, features analysis and interview-based profiles covering judicial philosophy, representative decisions, and recent cases.