The White House is reaching out to political allies and conservative activist groups to prepare for an ailing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's possible death or departure from the Supreme Court - an event that would trigger the second bitter confirmation battle of President Donald Trump's tenure. She plans to work from home next week and will miss one more week of oral arguments.
The White House counsel's office and senior aides on the Senate Judiciary Committee, now chaired by Sen. Politico published a list of them Thursday.
The court has not yet offered a timetable on Ginsburg's return.
Currently, the nine-member Court already has a five-four conservative majority following Trump's controversial appointment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Others identified include Joan Larsen of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Raymond Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit, Britt Grant of the Eleventh Circuit, and Thomas Hardiman of the Third Circuit, who served with Trump's sister, Maryanne Trump Barry.
The court's oldest justice had surgery three weeks ago to remove cancerous growths on her left lung.
Dr. Raja Flores of Mount Sinai Medical Center reassured MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Thursday evening that Ginsburg's absence was "completely routine" for such a taxing surgery, and that "she'll be back in full form, I'd say within a month". She is a former Notre Dame law professor who had clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia.
But in initial comments he also brought up a grudge. "But I'm confident she's not going anywhere".
Though unconfirmed, speculation intensified further still when a handful of verified conservative Twitter accounts began reporting murmurs that an announcement about Ginsburg's retirement could come as soon as today.
At the same time, the Republican leaders must tread carefully while Ginsburg is still recovering from her recent cancer surgery in order to avoid sparking the righteous indignation of well-organized and well-funded liberal radicals, who spent weeks protesting in and around Capitol Hill last fall.