On September 18, 2020, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice passed away from pancreatic cancer leaving America on alert. She was quoted by NPR saying, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Justice Ginsburg’s wish for her seat on the Supreme Court to remain vacant until a new President was voted into office and had the opportunity to nominate her replacement, was not considered in her demise. President Trump and Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, moved forward with the nomination process to replace Justice Ginsburg before the election, as they had previously vowed to do. Just 8 days after Justice Ginsburg’s passing, President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court. If confirmed, the appointment could threaten democracy for generations to come.
Who is Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s?
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also well known as RBG was the second woman and first Jewish woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court justice. She was appointed in 1993 by President Clinton, but her plethora of accomplishments dating back to her early life.
Justice RBG earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University graduating first in her class. She married Martin Ginsburg, had a daughter, and they enrolled in Harvard Law School. RBG worked as a Clerk for District Judge Edmund Palmieri, a tenured law professor at Rutgers University Law School, served as director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, and on the U.S, the court of appeals for the District of Columbia all before reaching her position as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
Ginsburg was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993 to replace Justice Bryon White, she was appointed by Senate 96-3, because of her intellect, political background, and her ability to effectively advocate amid very conservative members of the Court. In her position as a Justice, she continued her work as an advocate.
What did RBG stand for?
Justice Ruth Ginsburg was known as a moderate liberal. She was a strong advocate for gender discrimination and equality. Ginsburg helped America make great strides toward equal pay, contributed greatly to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, pushed to protect against sexual discrimination in the workplace, passing the 2010 Affordable Care Act, legalizing same-sex marriage, and much more during her time as a Justice.
Why is this position so important to America today?
With the November 3rd election quickly arising Justice RBG’s spot being filled could change the court for generations. In recent years, Ginsburg overtly showed her disapproval of Trump’s agendas throughout his presidency. Because of their vastly different beliefs and understanding of the importance of her spot in the Supreme Court, she stated clearly that she was not going anywhere. Trump released a list of possible nominees due to the number of elderly justices that were in office in 2018. Supreme Court Justices are tenured and only replaced if they retire, pass away, resign, or are impeached. The number of elderly justices that were on the court lead President Trump to believe that spots would be opening soon.
Justice RBG’s death will have an intense significance in relation to the court. She held prestige in the court as the leader of the liberal opinion. Earlier in this blog, I expressed how Mitch McConnell vowed to fill any vacancy before or after the election, but it would be with somebody President Trump nominated. In the past, during Obama’s presidency, Mitch McConnell blocked Obama’s nominee for 10 months after Justice Scalia died. McConnell responded stating, that the people should have a say. So why are they pushing for such a quick turnover now? Many believe that with many important cases such as Obamacare and Roe v Wade on the line the republican party would have more sway by filling the spot. The Senate has enough Republicans to have the votes to confirm whoever the President nominates, and, in this case, Trump has nominated Amy Barrett. If Amy Barrett or any other conservative is voted in and appointed as the newest Supreme Court justice, we will have a court that is 6 to 3 conservative – liberal. This structure will most likely remain for generations and affect our children’s children. This is because of the life tenure term that exists for Supreme Court justices. Trump was quoted saying, “When you have the Senate, when you have the votes, you can sort of do what you want.” in an interview with “Fox & Friends.” The Obama administration nominee block versus the quick turnover under the Trump administration is just one example of the conservative power pull that would be only be intensified with a 6-3 far-right leading in the Supreme Court.
With the vast and growing gap between political parties in America, this ideological domination could leave only one part of the country being represented in the Courts. Furthermore, the polarization in our country makes Supreme Court Justice appointments much more political and more informed by political ideologies than originally intended by our founding fathers. Once again, with conservatives controlling the Senate and a 6-3 far-right leaning Supreme Court, the conservative party would have the power and opportunity to pass and/ or invalidate laws without sufficient democratic accountability. Moreover, undermining the checks and balances that our democratic government relies so heavily on.
Although particular rights are at risk of this appointment, the risk of ideological domination could phrase further issues for generations to come. This nomination and voting process is very important to the future of America and if Amy Barrett or any conservative is appointed the new Justice, they would have access to immense political power. A single-party rule in America, grants access to too much power leading to the likelihood of more seamless changes to laws. Laws and policies that could affect our children’s children and take generations to overturn.
The reason Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not step down from her seat to be replaced by president Barack Obama was she wanted the first female president to nominate and assign her supressor.
RBG is seen as a feminist icon, despite her records of voting and writing against native American sovereignty, joined conservative judges in voting to speed up deportation of asylum seekers, and other instances that defy her position as a liberal feminist icon.
Despite your own beliefs and feelings on RBG’s stances on these issues. I am wondering if you feel any resentment at all towards the decision to not step down during the Obama administration?
Hey Ericka, great post discussing the various facts surrounding the death and replacement process for RBG. You bring up some really great points about the nomination process and the future impact of a 6-3 conservative court on the future of this country and its heightened danger due to polarization. In the wake of the election, we’ve seen the new conservative court rule on a variety of cases related to the election and other hot button topics, most generally against President Trump. In the wake of these rulings, do you think the dangers of the court are as stark as you fear, or do you think that some factors such as Justice Robert’s desire to maintain legitimacy of the court will keep it relatively in line with popular opinion?
I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news that RBG had passed. When I read the news aloud to my friends, the room fell silent and no one knew what to say. While she has definitely done some extremely problematic things during her time as a Supreme Court Justice, as Antonina pointed out in the comment above, she was also a force to be reckoned with. She wrote with such conviction and confidence – her execution was nearly flawless. If you have the time, please read her dissent for the Ledbetter v Goodyear case: https://www.oyez.org/cases/2006/05-1074.
When I saw that Amy Coney was to become her successor, I was stunned. How could we as a nation downgrade so extremely? Forget the fact that she lacks experience, but her conservative views pose a threat to American minorities. She will definitely have a large impact on generations to come, and I am happy you pointed that out. Your conclusion was also very strong – having one party in charge is very dangerous. Also, I was so disappointed in the fact that Trump had the ability to nominate a Justice when Mitch McConnell had denied Obama that privilege after the passing of Justice Scalia.
RGB’s death did have a great significance on the Nation. I was really disappointed and saddened when i heard of the news. The only thing I could think of was what is to happen next. As discussion continued and optional successors appeared I knew the Supreme Court was going downhill.I feel that at least they could have waited until Biden was officially in office or pick someone as selfless and the same motives. I feel that the next years will be a rocky road because her views do not align with many people in our generation.