In 1974 Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas suffered a stroke which confined him to a wheelchair and greatly impaired his mental faculties. But he refused to retire. Ford was President, and Douglas didn’t want him appointing his replacement.
After several months he was so incapacitated that seven of his fellow Justices agreed that they would postpone any decision where Douglas’ opinion would be deciding. After almost a year he was finally persuaded to retire.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85 and ailing, and she has a decision to make. If her health begins to really fail, will she hang on, in order to prevent Trump from replacing her? How far is she willing to go? She certainly seems to be more honorable than the execrable Douglas, a vicious, loathsome man.
In the end, it really didn’t matter. Ford appointed John Paul Stevens, who was as liberal, if not as whacky, as Douglas.
If Ginsburg does retire Trump can be trusted to make another outstanding pick. A 5-4 majority is tenuous, and can be overturned by one vacancy, as with Scalia. 6-3 would be a whole lot better.
If Ginsburg needs to retire, she should do it soon. The closer her retirement is to election day, 2020, the more it becomes a political issue. To Trump’s immense benefit.