The‌ ‌Not-So-Honorable‌ ‌Succession‌ ‌of‌ ‌The‌ ‌Honorable‌ ‌Justice‌ ‌Ginsburg‌ ‌

Raina Carfaro, Scarlet Staff

On September 18th, the news of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death spread through the country and with it came shocks of grief and terror. RBG dedicated her life to the study of law and the deliverance of justice; her legacy is the inspiration and empowerment of millions of people, both through the law and by example. While she was imperfect as we all are to some extent, , she was an icon for many as a staunch defender of reproductive health, marriage equality, and human dignity. Partisanship aside, she was an honorable and just woman who sought to uphold the constitution as best as she was able. Her last years were marked by declining health and an increasingly concerning political climate. She fought to stay alive so that she could protect those that might be politically harmed following her passing. Her death marks the beginning of the battle to fill her coveted seat.

As she lay dying, her most fervent wish was that she was not to be replaced “until a new president is installed.”

I am sure that President Trump’s new nominee, Amy Coney Barrett,  to fill her seat is exactly why RGB fought to stay alive for so long. The appointment of Barrett would be an appropriation of everything virtuous RBG spent her life fighting for. Barrett has spent her entire career depriving others of the very decencies and freedoms she demands for herself. While RBG smashed the glass ceiling for all people, Barrett climbed the ladder behind her and buttered the bars to keep others at the bottom. Barrett on the Supreme Court would threaten civil liberties such as abortion rights, marriage equality, and racial equity. She has openly admitted to her faith being a great guidance in her decisions, despite the separation of church and state being clearly defined in the very constitution she is supposed to interpret. She is a threat to justice everywhere.

Regardless of Barrett’s politics, the circumstance of RBG’s death brings up many questions regarding the precedence of Judicial nominations during an election year. Following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, an onslaught of disagreements filled the Senate floor. Scalia died in February of that year, with election day 269 days away. Senate Republicans demanded that the seat not be filled until after the election and refused to hold a hearing for Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. Ginsberg died 46 days before the election and, already, the Republican led Senate is preparing for Barrett’s hearing.

In 2016, Majority leader Mitch McConnell delayed the installation of Garland by calling upon the precedence of the Senate not confirming a nominee in an election year when the White House and the Senate are controlled by opposing parties. He has now shifted his argument, claiming that now that it is well within reason to appoint a Justice when the Senate and White House are controlled by the same party. There is previous precedent of this being the case, as there have been 19 past cases in which a president of one party nominated a justice for approval by a Senate controlled by the same party between Jan. 1 of an election year and Inauguration Day the following year.

McConnell said in 2016 that “the Senate has not filled a vacancy arising in an election year when there was a divided government since 1888.” While this is true, it should be argued that the prevention of a Justice installation under a divided government is unethical and precedent is merely a product of starch partisanship and political maneuvering. McConnell is not being  conscious and respectful of political precedent. McConnell only used this wildly specific case exception to justify pushing off a liberal Justice nomination while also trying to provide himself a loophole for the future. Politicians make extremely specific or extremely generic claims in order to avoid “hypocrisy” in the future.

Whichever party has majority control in Washington tries to maintain power for as long as they possibly can by whatever means. Undoubtedly, Washington Democrats under the same circumstances would also try to rush in a new nominee if they had the chance. These arguments over precedent in Washington are examples of the pattern of relentless political feuds between out of touch politicians and their need for dominance. Career politicians maintain the status quo while everyday people suffer under Washington’s complacency and malignance. With this upcoming election set to determine the future of American history, it is more important than ever that the American people have a say in who represents them and is allowed the honor to serve on the highest court in the United States. This upcoming election is not about the party nominees –  Joe Biden or Donald Trump. It is about protecting basic human rights for just a bit longer. Just for a bit so we can catch our breath and grieve for this year and the people we have lost. For the system in which we are voting cannot be just as it forces us, the people, to battle for our very lives and the planet every four years.

An incredible amount is at stake this year, and I urge you to vote not just for Biden, but against authoritarianism and blind nationalism, white supremacy, misogyny and outright genocide at our borders and in our streets. Our vote is for autonomy, justice, transparency and equity. We simply don’t want to be stolen from the streets or shot in our beds. But. If Biden is elected, remember, we did not win the war. We are simply giving ourselves more time to overthrow a system that would see us silent.