A Moment of Grief and Terror
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," Ruth Bader Ginsburg
“No. No. No.” Those words began trending on Twitter within minutes of the announcement. They’re the words that alerted me to the news. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead.
Even in a year of unprecedented death, devastation and despair—just weeks before an election that our already impeached-for-life President hopes to win by openly cheating at a hideous, Third-World-Dictator level—Ginsburg’s death itself represents a pivotal moment in history.
Meena Harris, niece of Democratic VP nominee Kamala Harris tweeted:
While many are tweeting “could 2020 get any worse?” the real question is, “now who wins?” Does Ginsburg’s death help Trump and all those who want to turn The Handmaid’s Tale into reality? Or does it motivate the true “silent majority” to rise up even more powerfully to take back America?
The choice in 2020: Democracy or Thugocracy?
Writing for NPR, Nina Totenberg calls Ginsburg a “demure firebrand who in her 80s became a legal, cultural and feminist icon.” After 27 years on the Supreme Court, RBG became “its most prominent member.”
At the same time, Totenberg notes:
Her death will inevitably set in motion what promises to be a nasty and tumultuous political battle over who will succeed her, and it thrusts the Supreme Court vacancy into the spotlight of the presidential campaign.
The feminist with a fundamentally optimistic vision, who believed that people, especially men, could be better, might be soon replaced by the rankest misogynist. The litigator and jurist who long subordinated her own immediate desires to the good and legitimacy of institutions, who had preached that slow change would stave off backlash, lived long enough to see Trump and the Federalist Society tear off the Court’s thin veneer of legitimacy anyway.
Of course, filling RBG’s seat before the election is something no respectable Republican would agree to do. Right? After all, it’s only four years since Mitch McConnell conveniently invented the “Biden Rule” to block twice-elected President Barack Obama’s February 2016 nomination of Merrick Garland on the grounds that the election was less than one year away. With that precedent established so recently, there’s no way the 53 Republicans who represent 15 million fewer Americans than the 47 Senators in the Democratic Caucus would allow the second-place finisher in the 2016 election to pick a THIRD Supreme Court Justice mere days before an election. Right?
Within minutes of Ginsburg’s death being announced, Tucker Carlson was interviewing evangelical CEO of American Majority Ned Ryun who endorsed Trump and McConnell moving quickly to fill Ginsburg’s SCOTUS seat. “I think that they will move and I hope they do move,” said Ryun, adding, “I think it will be a massive help in his reelection.”
That’s where we are as we wake up this Saturday morning.
It’s 45 days before the election.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead.
And the minority-supported party of the angry white conservative male is determined to make one last Bush League move that will cement their power in place for another generation.
Trump will possibly nominate a woman to help gloss over the white patriarchy’s power grab. But make no mistake: If Trump and McConnell succeed in filling Ginsburg’s seat before November (or before Inauguration Day if Biden wins), the bastards win.
What Can Democrats Do?
The options—and delaying tactics—are limited. They will be fiercely debated. And all of them will be weighed against the implications for November. Rapid response ad makers Meidas Touch and Really American are already highlighting Republican hypocrisy and putting pressure on Senators like Lindsey Graham who said this in 2016:
There’s always the possibility that 4 Republican Senators—Murkowski, Collins, Romney, plus one other—will do the honorable thing and insist on letting the next President select his nominee. But it’s never a good idea to invest even a smidgen of hope on Republicans doing the honorable or decent thing. Even when they pinky promise or swear on the Bible to do it.
Clearly the voices of the people must be heard. Now. And at the ballot box. Republicans like Lindsey Graham (currently tied in his Senate campaign against Jaime Harrison) must hear from the majority of Americans who support reproductive freedom, LGBTQ equality and DACA, among other key issues before the Supreme Court.
And in November, Biden’s win must be so emphatic there’s no chance it ends up, like the 2000 election, in front of the Supreme Court. Because as Perry Bacon writes for FiveThirtyEight, Ginsburg’s death, “raises the specter of a 4-4 tie in a pivotal election-related case, a potential deadlock that could complicate knowing who won the presidential race.”
Looking ahead, Ian Milhiser writes in Vox that, assuming Democrats win the White House and Congress in November, “court packing may be the only solution.” Not only is expanding the number of seats on the Supreme Court 100% allowed by the Constitution, it’s also, Milhiser argues, an acceptable response to Trump and McConnell confirming a third Trump Justice against the will of the people.
As NPR’s Totenberg also reported: Just days before her death, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
To honor the legacy of all those lost in 2020—including Representative John Lewis and now Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—it’s vitally important that the thugs don’t win.
We can’t defeat the patriarchy in 2020. But with Biden we can elect a kinder, gentler one.