Week 13: September 21, 2020
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a role model and women’s rights champion who dedicated her life to feminism and equality for all. Her contributions to the United States through her life long career as a lawyer and Supreme Court justice have been many, but the most impactful of which might be getting the courts to recognize discrimination based on gender.
Even from the beginning of her career, Ginsberg has been boldly outspoken and articulate with her opinions. During her time as a lawyer she won 5 out of the 6 cases she argued before the Supreme Court, along with dozens of others in lower courts. Then, as a justice, she pushed those around her to consider perspectives other than what they knew, carefully orchestrating stable, long term change through gradual progress.
As the supreme court became more divided towards the second half of her career, it became more difficult to sway the opinion of her fellow justices; thus she was forced to dissent more and more against the conservative majority court. Her statements were not only powerful beacons of hope for many around the country, but they also sometimes persuaded Congress to side with Ginsburg, to correct the mistakes of the court.
RBG’s influence was profound, and her dedication to justice and speaking her truth both in court and in the world will continue to inspire our generation and generations to come. Unfortunately, her death came at a crucial time in our country as a political battle will now wage for who gets to nominate her replacement.
Despite the precedent set during Obama’s last term where he was blocked from nominating a justice for the last 10 months of his presidency because, as Mitch McConell argued, the people had a right to make their wishes known during the election. This led to President Trump being given the power to nominate two justices, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. Now, with a Republican controlled Congress it appears that with only 45 days left before the election, Trump will in fact get to nominate a third, likely further tipping the balance in the supreme court to a 6-3 conservative majority.
Even if Biden is elected to office and the senate is taken by democrats, Trump and fellow Republicans will continue to hold the white house and Congress until January, making it likely that the current president will still get to choose a third justice. There are still obstacles facing Trump, including the fact that not all Republicans in congress will necessarily support Trump’s nominee, as several have voted against him both in the impeachment trial and in his nomination of Kavanaugh. However, despite their opinions on Trump, a conservative appointee to the court would shift the balance steeply to the right for the next decade at least, an opportunity that may be too enticing to pass up by the GOP.
This battle for the next nomination is just another massive implication on the outcome of the election, and it is sure to push people on both sides of the spectrum further apart and to the ballot box. The supreme court’s decisions have a huge impact on issues and instances where political parties are clearly divided, such as immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, voter suppression, and health care.
Regardless of if your vote does or does not have a direct impact on who is nominated, it is absolutely critical that as many people as possible make their voices heard this November. In RBG’s own words, just days before her passing, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”