the notorious supreme court
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Before we get to the travesty that is the Republican’s 30 day sprint to ram a right-wing ideologue judge down our throats, let us take a minute to take note of the last occupant of the seat she is filling.
I can’t get over the picture above. At least 1000 people, maybe more, gathered in front of the Supreme Court building in the evening of September 18th to mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They were peaceful, quiet, many cried, some carried candles, all in their own way feeling a great sense of loss. They continued to come through the weekend, bringing flowers, newspaper front pages and pictures of Ginsburg.
Ginsburg’s death is felt by all who cherish the American dream. A dream that basic human rights are to be enjoyed by every American, not just those of a certain gender, or race, or religion or skin color or economic state or any other demographic which tends to divide one American from others. It is a dream which has never been realized. But Ginsburg worked tirelessly to make it so.
If you are a woman and you have a credit card in your own name and your own credit history, if you have rented an apartment or bought property in your name, if you have consented to your own medical treatment, or if you played a sport in school, you can thank Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Ginsburg graduated law school at a time when female lawyers were rare. The dean of Harvard law, Erwin Griswold, reportedly asked the nine women in Ginsburg’s class why they were taking the place of a man. Harvard had admitted its first woman to the law school just six years earlier. Griswold would later say he was playing devil’s advocate in asking the question.
Ginsburg would later say her law school experience led her to spend much of her career fighting to break down barriers that blocked woman. Cleverly, she often implemented her strategy by first defending the rights of men. If should could prove before a sympathetic male judge that a man’s rights had been violated because of his gender, she could establish a precedent a woman could use in the future.
That career led to her nickname “The Notorious RBG” long before President Bill Clinton nominated her for the Supreme Court. It is that career which led to the outpouring of tearful emotion she drew from the crowd on the Court steps on the night of her death.
The Hypocrite Party
Which makes what the Republicans did next even more disgusting. Before the night was over politics exploded across the country. The death of the leader of the liberal wing of the Court set off a firestorm of political maneuvering. Who would be chosen to fill the vacancy? And who would do the choosing? I suppose it is no surprise that politicians in the corrosive atmosphere of Washington would immediately turn to the political consequences of the news.
Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell may not see anything crass about beginning the political debate within hours of Ginsburg’s passing. And in the wake of McConnell’s decision to not even consider President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland of the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to succeed Justice Antione Scalia, who died eight months before the end of Obama’s term. Still the sheer hypocrisy of their actions offend.
An expression I love is to “hoist by one’s own petard.” Hoist here means lift and petard is a small bomb, making the expression literally to blow oneself up, or to be victimized by one’s own scheme. Here it is one’s own words. In denying Garland his day in court McConnell, joined by Senator Chuck Grassley, then chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote in the Washington Post:
“Rarely does a Supreme Court vacancy occur in the final year of a presidential term, and the Senate has not confirmed a nominee to fill a vacancy arising in such circumstances for the better part of a century. So the American people have a particular opportunity now to make their voice heard in the selection of Scalia’s successor as they participate in the process to select their next president — as they decide who they trust to both lead the country and nominate the next Supreme Court justice. How often does someone from Ashland, Ky., or Zearing, Iowa, get to have such impact?”
Apparently someone from Ashland, Ky., or Zearing, Iowa does NOT get to have an impact if Republicans are involved. In hypocritically ramming through the appointment by Donald Trump of Amy Coney Barrett just two months before this election, McConnell and Grassley now make the distinction that since the Senate and the White House are controlled by the same party, the previous rule does not apply.
Lindsey Graham, the current head of the judiciary committee, was even more explicit on the subject when Garland was up for consideration:
“I want you to use my words against me,” Graham said during a 2016 Senate meeting. “If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.”
Graham is up for reelection. We’ll see how well his opponent uses his words against him, and if the people of South Carolina decide they don’t need a lying hypocrite representing their state. McConnell is up for reelection too. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the people of Kentucky sent him packing?
All this does is demonstrate the true malice in the hearts of these men and those who support them. It proves the hypothesis that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. For these hypocrites the end justifies the means. If the Democrats can take control of the White House and both houses of Congress you can expect the remaining Republicans to scream about minority rights, respect for longstanding rules and a need for caution. Hopefully the Democrats will ignore them.
Amy Coney Barrett
And with what have we replaced the leader of the progressive wing of the Supreme Court? We have Amy Coney Barrett, who’s public utterances in her previous roles make her out to be radically right wing. A women of honor would have refused the nomination, telling Trump she too believes as McConnell, Grassley and Graham once did, that it is so close to the election the people should have their say before the vacate chair is filled. That she accepted the nomination gladly speaks to her character. Or lack thereof.
And immediately after being sworn in as another one of what Trump likes to call, “My Judges,” Barrett made the obligatory campaign appearance on Trump’s behalf.
Please don’t talk to me about the apolitical Supreme Court. At my advanced age, I might break a rib laughing.
And your know what is the saddest part of this saga? After an entire life spent walking through doors Ruth Bader Ginsburg broke open on behalf of woman in America, Barrett will be closing them behind her.