By Alex Berkman
America has lost a true legend. On Friday, September 18, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) died of pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg, who served honorably on the Supreme Court for 27 years, really did live an incredible life. A hero of the underdog, she used her platform to advocate for minority groups like American Indians, gender equality issues, and women’s rights. Currently, RBG lies in repose outside of the Supreme Court for thousands to come and pay their respects. Yes, the commemoration of her legacy has drawn national attention, but it was her last dying wish, yes you heard that right, her last dying wish that has created such a stir within the political world.
In the final days of Ginsburg’s life, her granddaughter Clara Spera asked her if there was anything “she wanted to say to the public, to anyone, that wasn’t already out there.” She said there was. “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” For someone who lacks knowledge of the Justice replacement procedures, this statement may hold little significance. So, if this is you, here’s a little lesson for you on the Judicial Branch.
When a Supreme Court Justice passes away or resigns, the president can nominate a new Justice. Importantly though, the Senate must first sanction this nomination before a Justice can serve their life term.
Since the current president and senate majority are Republican, it would be relatively easy to insert a new, perhaps conservative, Justice into the Supreme Court. So, yes, the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a tremendous loss for all of humanity, but it was also a major blow for liberals. The addition of a conservative would signify a further swing to the right, which would have immense ramifications on Supreme Court rulings.
While President Trump has not openly stated it, the belief is that the Republican party will make a strong push to nominate and confirm a new Supreme Court Justice before election day. As you might expect, liberals are NOT happy. The point that they, including Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, have made in opposition of a potential nomination is that “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.” Liberals have also insisted we do the moral thing and honor RBG’s dying wish.
As part of this debate, partisans have pointed to the precedents set back in 2016. When Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in February 2016, then-President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to take his place. Unsurprisingly, the Republican Senate shot down this nomination, pointing to the belief that the next president, and them only, should be the one to appoint the next Justice. Sounds familiar right?
Yes, Republicans flip flopped their viewpoint on this matter but so did Democrats. There is no such thing as partisanship without hypocrisy; and as frustrating as it is, most politicians are solely looking out for their own best interests. The system is flawed; and unfortunately, we just have to accept that. Regardless, It sure will be fascinating to see how this all plays itself out.