Ginsburg's death is earth-shattering
Trump will replace her. But don't despair. We have a fight on our hands, bold options and no time for losing hope.
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The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a shock to the system for all of us who care about justice, equality, freedom and the Constitution itself. Her legacy is enormous, and the loss is just as great — and terribly frightening.
Right this moment we have a 5-3 right-wing court, as we have important cases being decided now and in the near future, including what might be election battles. There’s no sugar-coating this. And Trump will move forward — Mitch McConnell has already vowed to have a vote — on replacing Ginsburg. Let’s not even waste any time on McConnell’s hypocrisy. This man is all about power, has no care or concern for your pointing out his inconsistencies and is emboldening a fascist.
The big question on seating a new justice is, When will they do it? Do they move before the election as senators like Ted Cruz of Texas and Rick Scott of Florida are calling for? Or do they do it in the lame-duck session, even if Joe Biden wins the election? There’s indication McConnell might not have the votes to do it before the election. Several GOP senators have said publicly in the recent past — or told colleagues — that they wouldn’t want to confirm a Supreme Court nominee this close to the election, or even before a new president is sworn in. Those include Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Liza Murkowski of Alaska and even Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Any of that can change, of course, because the word of none of these people can be trusted. They run the gamut from vile to weak, and some are both. But it’s hard to see Graham, as Judiciary Committee chair, running a confirmation on a contentious Supreme Court nominee while he’s tied in the polls with his challenger, the dynamic Democrat Jaime Harrison, and needs to be campaigning for the next six weeks and not giving his opponent more to run on.
The same is true for other vulnerable Republican senators. There’s a theory though that after the election, should Trump lose, some of them and other member of the GOP who’ve been lapdogs to Trump might just finally decide they’re not giving him the chance to pull this kind of outrageous action again. The idea being that they’re no longer beholden to him and might actually care about the court and institutions of democracy. Again, I don’t put anything past any of them. But it seems Cruz, Scott and others on the right are afraid of this possibility and are thus calling for a vote now.
What we need to do is stay in the fight and realize we have options. I called on Democrats to impeach Trump again after the Bob Woodward book became public, showing Trump knew how deadly coronavirus was from back in February. They can still do this — and it would grind everything to a halt in the Senate, another trial taking precedence. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer also have other options, including denying a continuing resolution and let the GOP and Trump shut down the government.
More than that, as many progressive activists and legal analysts are urging — including some Democratic senators — Democrats and Joe Biden must be committed, should they win the presidency and the Senate back (which right now they have a good shot at), to getting rid of the filibuster and expanding the Supreme Court. With an up or down vote Democrats can add more seats to the high court — bring it to 11 or 15 — as the court has been both larger and smaller in the past.
Among Democrats who ran for the presidential nomination, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and now vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris have been open to the idea of court-packing. Joe Biden wasn’t — but he also wasn’t open to ending the filibuster, and now he is open to it, especially since President Obama came out for it.
So, we have a lot of work to do, pushing Democrats to go to the mat and play hardball. The American people don’t want to see this authoritarian president decide that the Supreme Court becomes a branch of the GOP and the ultra-conservative movement, transforming this country in horrifying ways long after Trump is gone.
It’s not a time to despair, or fret — and that energy is just wasted. It’s a time to reflect on Justice Ginsburg’s legacy and fight on just like she would. Time to double down, no question about it.
UPDATE: Since I wrote that we shouldn’t even waste time discussing McConnell’s hypocrisy, I do want to add this useful, insightful Twitter thread on the reasons why pointing it out over and over again might be good (and can’t hurt, and we can certainly do many things at once), including shaming whoever in the GOP might have any shame left.