By Emma Campbell
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg died on Sept. 18 in her Washington D.C. home at the age of 87 from complications relating to pancreatic cancer.
In the polarizing case of Bush v. Gore, Ginsburg criticized the conservative decision to suspend the counting of disputed Florida ballots in the 2000 presidential election.
At the conclusion of her written objection, Ginsburg rebuffed judicial decorum. In lieu of the usual closing, “Respectfully, I dissent,” the Justice wrote, simply and scathingly, “I dissent.”
This historic opposition, delivered with the Ginsburg’s signature elegance and severity, was bolstering enough to make Americans forget she was barely five feet tall and 100 pounds. Ginsburg may have been small in stature, but she was looming in political capability.
Apart from her political achievements, the “Notorious RBG” was also known for her gym workouts, passion for horseback riding, and a cheerful aversion to cooking.
She was a force — perhaps the last line of defense between diplomacy and President Donald Trump’s fascist America.
A fierce partisan battle is brewing over Ginsburg’s recently vacated Supreme Court seat. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wasted no time in releasing a statement on the day of Ginsburg’s death, pledging a floor vote on Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court within the next 45 days.
McConnell’s vow undermines the final words of Ginsburg, which she reportedly delivered to her granddaughter, Clara Spera, on her death bed.
“She dictated the following sentence to me: ‘My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,’” Spera told BBC. “I read it back to her, she was very happy with that, and when I asked her, ‘Is that it? Is there anything else you’d like to say?’ She said, ‘The rest of my work is a matter of public record.’ So that was all she wanted to add.”
Trump, who The New Yorker dubbed “The Most Mendacious President in U.S. History,” called Spera a liar.
“I don’t know that [Ginsburg] said that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff and Schumer and Pelosi?” Trump said on the conservative morning show, Fox & Friends. “I would be more inclined to the second.”
Supreme Court confirmations generally take about two months to complete, though Trump plans to move “without delay,” as he lauded on Twitter.
Trump has already chosen his nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative federal judge who signed a letter in 2015 addressed to Catholic bishops which contained a statement about “marriage and family founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman.”
Barrett is indisputably incapable of filling Ginsburg’s trailblazing shoes. Even a nominee without Barrett’s record of homophobia would be unsuited for such a feat.
Ginsburg’s political achievements are numerous and impossible to summarize succinctly.
She was a feminist champion, giving reason and legitimacy to a woman’s right to choose with her vocal support of Roe v. Wade. She voted majority for landmark cases in LGBTQ civil rights history, and even became the first Supreme Court Justice to officiate multiple same-sex marriages.
She was an icon in all respects.
In an interview with National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg, Ginsberg spoke on justice and dissent.
“Dissents speak to a future age,” Ginsburg said. “It’s not simply to say, ‘My colleagues are wrong, and I would do it this way. But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow.”
Ginsburg understood that fair political judgement requires human goodness. In the coming months, Trump will push for us to forget this belief, as well as the woman who championed it, in order to refocus our attention to his usual onslaught of hatred and fearmongering.
And so, to paraphrase our late Justice, we must dissent.
Featured Photo caption: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last week at the age of 87, leaving heartbreak and political uncertainty in her wake. Photo Courtesy of Flickr.