The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Future of the Supreme Court
On September 18, 2020, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away at the age of 87 due to complications with metastatic pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg had many achievements in her life and fought for women’s rights in the workforce and in government.
Ginsburg graduated first in her class at Cornell University in 1954 and went on to go to Harvard and Columbia Law School. Ginsburg taught at Rutgers University Law School and then later became Columbia’s first female tenured professor.
Ginsburg dealt with much discrimination at the beginning of her career, simply because she was a woman. She was turned down from jobs and treated differently from men in the same positions she was in. This led her to, in the 1970’s, serve as the director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Being on this board, she “argued six landmark cases on gender equality before the U.S. Supreme Court.” One of the most notable of these cases is “United States vs. Virginia,” where the decision was made that the Virginia Military Institute could no longer refuse admission to women “on the basis of sex.”
Ginsburg served on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia after being appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. She served in this capacity until 1993 when she was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton. She became the second woman to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court and the first Jewish woman to serve.
The death of Justice Ginsburg leaves a major gap to fill in the Supreme Court, and with the presidential election less than a month away, the question has been asked: should the seat be filled before or after the election?
Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Appointments Clause, empowers the president to “…nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law…”
On September 26th President Donald Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Justice Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. This was met with major backlash, with former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sharing his thoughts during the first presidential debate on September 29th.
“The American people have a right to have a say in who the Supreme Court nominee is and that say occurs when they vote for United States senators and when they vote for the president of the United States,” Biden said. “They’re not going to get that chance now because we’re in the middle of an election already. The election has already started, tens of thousands of people have already voted.”
Trump argued back saying, “We won the election and therefore we have the right to choose her. I’m not elected for three years, I’m elected for four years.”
“As far as the say is concerned, the people already had their say,” he added.
This all comes after the Republican party would not confirm the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland by President Barack Obama almost eight months before the 2016 presidential election. The Republican-majority Senate, led by Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, who still leads the Senate today, argued that it would be “wrong to vote on a Supreme Court nominee in an election year.”
If President Trump’s nomination of Judge Barrett gets confirmed, this will be his third Supreme Court nomination since becoming President.