Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away Friday night at the age of 87. A few thoughts have come to mind as I’ve reflected on her passing and the responses in media and social media.
-There’s a major push to wait until next year to nominate a new justice, given the response of the GOP controlled senate in 2016 when Antonin Scalia passed away. At the time, part of the talking point was that the American people should have a say in the next justice (and that a lame duck president should not nominate a new justice in an election year). Even in 2016, I thought that was the wrong angle for the GOP to pursue. I thought the better argument was “it’s not the senate’s job to confirm whoever the president nominates; it’s the president’s job to nominate someone the senate is willing to confirm.
-The hypocrisy cuts both ways though. It’s about the one billionth example of political parties talking out both sides of their mouths because democrats (including current nominee Joe Biden) wanted a nominee in 2016 to be confirmed. Now they want to wait. Both parties are hypocritical on this issue.
-None of this changes the fact that regardless of what happened in 2016, Donald Trump is the president and it’s his prerogative to nominate someone for the court. (Obama nominated Merrick Garland).
-With concerns over a constitutional crisis, there are reasonable arguments that the court needs another justice before the election so that we have an odd number of justices. Given that the current justices are not perfectly objective bastions of truth and justice, I have the sneaking suspicion that wild card justices like Roberts and Gorsuch would not allow a tie on something of such monumental importance (but that’s just my theory).
-I think it’s unfortunate when anyone passes away, and I think that it’s unfortunate that RBG has died. I also think all of this could have been avoided had an aging Bader Ginsburg done the sensible thing and retired when Obama was president. Instead, the media wanted to give us propaganda about how intensely RBG was working out.
-Yes, the Supreme Court is a lifetime appointment, but most justices do not serve the rest of their lives. Of 51 former justices since the beginning of the 20th century, 37 retired or resigned. Of the 14 former justices confirmed since 1960, 11 retired from the court.
-As I’ve seen some frenzy of despair and hopelessness in the wake of RBG’s passing, I think it should be a reminder for us all that politics, presidents, and judges are not our hope. So many of us get so invested that we think society itself hinges on one person and that all is lost if a person dies. People are not our hope. We too often make idols of finite people.
-I’ve joked that Trump should nominate Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, just to watch the democrats vote against the person Obama nominated 4 years ago.
Thanks for reading!