2020 Election Is Far More Consequential with the Passing of RBG
Americans are still mourning the loss of a legal giant — U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (known as RBG) who passed away from pancreatic cancer. The second woman justice ever to serve in SCOTUS after Sandra Day O’Conner, RBG will go down in history as someone who’ve helped all women move closer toward achieving equality under the law.
Besides being a woman, RBG was also unique to SCOTUS as a religious minority (Jew) and daughter of immigrant parents. A “triple minority,” she has broken down barriers her entire life at a time when White patriarchy was so dominant.
In a case she ruled with the High Court’s majority against Virginia Military Institute, she set precedence in banning sex discrimination from admission to institutions that receive federal funds. She’s ruled in favor of voting rights and equal pay. As an attorney, she also helped men in receiving the same rights as mothers for childcare and helped widowers receive Social Security as widows, helping both sexes having greater equality.
RBG’s lifetime work could be summarized as great victories that helped to bring about justice and fairness under the law, above all.
Yet, her untimely death (before the presidential election) puts the nation in a heated political battle over “fairness” and hypocrisy in agreeing to the right time to fill RBG’s replacement.
Ginsburg’s dying wish, according to her granddaughter was that she not be replaced until the new president is installed.
But that dying wish is not the source of unfairness.
Timing to fill in SCOTUS vacancy – pure hypocrisy
The unfairness is rooted in 2016 when Sen. Mitch McConnell (majority leader) refused to allow a vote on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to SCOTUS. McConnell said at the time, Garland’s nomination was too close to the election (200 days away) to fill the high court vacancy.
Fast forward to today, just a few weeks away from the 2020 presidential election, McConnell pledged to swiftly fill RBG’s replacement potentially before the Nov. 3 election. Legally the Senate could fill the vacancy even after Nov. 3 in the lame-duck session until the 2020 election victors are sworn into office in January 2021.
On Sept. 26, President Donald Trump nominated conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace RBG’s vacancy.
Democrats say what this basically amounts to – should Trump and McConnell succeed – is the unfair appointment of two conservative SCOTUS associate justices centered on a made-up rule pushed by McConnell at first saying a SCOTUS appointment should not be appointed in an election year, then McConnell backtracking on his earlier rule so that he can make this latest confirmation.
The entire flip-flopping reeks of bad politics. And could have major ramifications lasting generations.
What a third Trump appointment to SCOTUS could mean
A third appointment would leave SCOTUS in a 6 to 3 conservative majority. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan would be the only true liberals (RBG was the senior liberal associate justice). Justice Stephen Breyer has sided with liberals at times; and the current Chief Justice John Roberts has sided with liberals even less. The remaining justices are true conservatives; and Barrett, if confirmed, would solidify their majority by a wider margin.
What this could mean in shaping policy through precedent? At stake are major reversals in current laws such as the potential dismantling of the Affordable Care Act (or parts of it), an end to reproductive rights, a rollback of many women’s and civil rights hard-fought over generations; the weakening of anti-discrimination laws and protections given to the LGBT community.
Immigrants, the elderly, the poor, people of color, labor unions, workers, people with disabilities and voters could all potentially see current rights stripped away as conservative fight to challenge established policies in employment, housing, education, government, voting and corporate regulations.
The balance of power would not only take a dramatic shift at the Judiciary but could also have broader ramifications undermining years of policies established by previous Congresses and presidents, as well as future ones.
And all that imbalance of power would have been bestowed upon SCOTUS unfairly, specifically two associate justices. The second Trump appointment (three in total) is accepted to be fair.
By the numbers
As of press time, at least two Republicans recognize the unfairness, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, both of whom said they would not support a rushed replacement.
All that’s needed are two more Republicans besides Murkowski and Collins to suspend a replacement and allow the next president to fill the vacancy.
All-out political melee ahead
While liberals have their hands tied in stopping McConnell-Trump, they have good reason to execute political retribution.
The talk at the Hill is to expand the number of associate justices to SCOTUS beyond 9, which would be possible should Democrats win the presidency and retake a majority in the Senate (Dems already control the House). The number of SCOTUS justices is not outlined in the U.S. Constitution so this would be possible.
That move, while it appears as stacking, would really be correcting political wrong-doings. Irregular actions (McConnell unfair confirmations) calls for irregular reactions – that’s justifiable.
The stakes for the 2020 election has gotten exponentially higher and more urgent. Please vote for a future of fairness. Empower our community and vote!