R.I.P. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And the world is about to explode
Every once in a while, there’s a piece of news that jolts your consciousness and occupies your mind as the only thing that matters. I was cooking dinner the other night when my wife matter-of-factly mentioned, “Did you hear Ruth Bader Ginsburg died?” Say again? “It says here that Ruth Bader Ginsburg died.”
She’d been sifting through a seemingly non-stop list of emails on her phone when the blurb popped up. We’d had some important agenda items during the day and were in heavy contemplation about what to do about them when the story broke like lighting on a cloudless evening.
“This changes everything,” I said, and immediately switched the TV to Tucker Carlson’s show. Everyone in America knows the 87-year-old Bill Clinton-appointed liberal Supreme Court justice was ill for some time, and the rumors surrounding her impending demise had intensified in recent years, only to be proven premature when the stubborn lawyer made another miraculous disease-defeating comeback. With mere weeks to go until the 2020 election, it was assumed that whatever was ailing the nation’s second female Supreme Court member would hold off until voters determined who would choose her successor.
Apparently not. Time and fate wait for no one, not even someone whose death would traumatize an already hopelessly divided country. It’ll only get rockier from here on out, if that’s even possible. Simultaneously, speculation started on when -- or whether -- President Donald Trump would move forward with appointing Ginsburg’s successor. And it certainly looks as though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will follow through with his pledge to hold a confirmation process and vote.
Some urged caution. Others were for traveling full speed ahead. Writing in favor of the latter course -- and for Amy Coney Barrett as the perfect one to appoint, Scott McKay wrote at The American Spectator over the weekend, “[T]his nomination is there for the confirming, it gives the country an excellent Supreme Court justice who will do excellent service for a protracted period of time, it’s a transformational choice which creates a new Supreme Court for the 21st century, it’s a political win which delivers Catholic voters and suburban women for the president’s party, it creates a feminine cultural icon setting precisely the right tone and it demonstrates once and for all to conservative voters that unlike the Republican Party of the Bush era, this GOP has the will and the sand to deliver on its promises.
“On big items. With big stakes. For lasting change.
“Make Amy Barrett happen, Mr. President. Don’t think twice, don’t wait. Move the nomination forward, and work with Sen. McConnell to ram it through with all possible speed. You won’t regret it — in fact, the political capital it will give you will seal the election not just for you but for your allies down the ballot in November.”
As he always does, McKay introduces a convincing argument. I don’t know if he’s a lawyer, but if he is, maybe he’s presented a case or two before the black robed jurists in big marble buildings. If the question were as cut-and-dried as McKay offers it, President Trump should have long ago commanded his people to prepare the paperwork for when the occasion arises. And man, has the occasion arisen this time.
The arguments for moving ahead now are many. But so are the reasons for exercising restraint. My initial reaction was to wait on it. Sure, Trump has said many times he would make a selection when the opportunity presented itself and McConnell’s repeatedly insisted that he would act on the nomination in his capacity as Senate calendar-setter. There’s not a heck of a lot that Republicans and Democrats agree on these days -- if anything -- so in essence, McKay is right. It’s up to the President and Majority Leader to determine the proper strategy.
For his part, Democrat Minority Leader “Chucky” Schumer immediately announced that the nomination should be postponed until after the election. Ginsburg herself laid it out as a dying wish that the “next president” should select her successor. Not to minimize the enormous deeds that RBG accomplished during her lifetime, but nowhere does it specify that outgoing Supreme Court justices get a say in who (literally) fills their seat upon departure.
Likewise, there’s no guarantee of future employment for Ginsburg’s staff and if the next justice prefers a different type of décor in the office, he or she will bring in painters and new furniture will be ordered. It’s not like starting a job as an underling in law firm where you sit where they tell you to and the plain and bare cubicle only provides sufficient space for a framed photo and a diploma. Justices serve for life if they wish, a reality America’s experienced twice in the last four-plus years.
Legendary originalist Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly in mid-February, 2016, right in the midst of the Republican primary season and days before South Carolina conservatives were slated to vote. Trump was lodged in a battle for the GOP nomination with Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and others (no need to mention John Kasich here, he was never a factor). I thought Scalia’s death and the resultant Supreme Court vacancy would swing the race towards a more proven competitor (Cruz).
I was wrong. The voters trusted Trump to make the decision. Shortly after Trump earned the requisite number of delegates to secure the nomination, he released a list of names he would consider for Scalia’s seat if elected. In doing so, Trump consulted with the conservative Federalist Society, a stroke of genius that probably won him the election. Election Day exit-surveys revealed that a high percentage of Americans were motivated by the impending high court dilemma -- enough to carry the first time politician over the finish line in several key states.
Many think Trump should refrain from making the choice now for the same reasons, namely that a vacancy will provoke a wave of fence sitters to get off the couch and cast their ballot for Trump, just like in 2016. Realistically speaking, no one can or will ignore this. Even the dwindled and pathetic band of NeverTrumpers couldn’t resist changing sides now, right? If they truly count themselves as conservatives, there’s no way they could pull the lever for Joe Biden when they know he promises to fill Ginsburg’s chair with someone at least as radical and leftwing as she was.
Grampa Joe hasn’t released his own Supreme Court list, likely fearing that naming names would commit him to something when all he hoped to do in the lead-up to the election was hang out in his protective Delaware basement bunker and mumble about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP, or Wuhan, if you prefer) virus. Biden won’t be able to shrink from the spotlight now. No more cowering out of sight. He’ll actually need to do something other than slam Trump as a racist. Joe didn’t choose Ginsburg’s fate, but the circumstances have chosen for him.
What to do? At his Saturday night rally in North Carolina, Trump said he was planning on announcing a nominee in a few days -- and that it would be a woman. He even polled the audience who enthusiastically cheered his every sentence on a cool evening in the Tar Heel State. There’s little doubt it will be Barrett, then. The rest… who knows?
Releasing a nominee and moving the process forward before the election will unleash war
Kamala Harris is the Democrat nominee for vice president. She’s also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. If Trump appoints Barrett -- or another woman -- the upper chamber’s machinery will be set in motion to determine her fitness for the Supreme Court.
Seeing as Barrett faced the confirmation gauntlet with the same cast of politician characters in 2017, it wouldn’t seem there’d be a whole lot new to talk about this time around. Senator Dianne Feinstein didn’t mince words three years ago in saying something to the effect of, “I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”
Dogma? The dictionary defines dogma, as, “a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.” You know, the Bible?
With throngs of paid protesters outside the senate office building (assuming COVID-19 restrictions won’t allow for public attendance), the masked leftist forces -- and the Democrat senators -- will attempt to depict Barrett as the second coming of Atilla the Hun. Amy is the mother of seven (including two adopted children from Haiti), but liberals will stop at nothing to label her as anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-poor, and, as would be expected these days, racist and homophobic. Black Lives Matter will take some of the millions Democrats have donated to them and pay squatters to camp out and occupy as much territory as possible.
Democrat staffers are no doubt combing through everything Barrett’s ever written or uttered, poaching a word, phrase or paragraph that purportedly proves she’s biased and would prejudge every case that comes before her. Her personal life will be dragged through the mud, then sifted for dirt particles. Her professional career will be dissected and criticized. Harris will likely take center stage and once again don her proverbial prosecutor hat to cross-examine every tidbit of testimony.
Democrats will grandstand and delay. Instead of posing questions to the nominee, they’ll engage in lengthy monologues about the unfairness of holding confirmation hearings just weeks or days before a national election. They’ll inflate the significance of one Supreme Court seat far larger than it was ever meant to be. They’ll lie and stonewall. Maybe they’ll even bring back Teddy Kennedy’s “In Robert Bork’s America” to foretell of Armageddon if Barrett is confirmed.
Kennedy said, “Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.”
Substitute Barrett’s name for Bork’s and it works just as well this year. The rhetoric will be over-the-top. The protests could easily turn violent. Democrats will threaten and condone social unrest. Feminists and leftist LBGTQ groups will fundraise like never before. Pandemonium will ensue.
The verbal assaults on Trump will also be relentless. RINOs like Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney will chime in their disapproval. Democrats will use the platform and national exposure to conduct an hours and days-long negative campaign commercial. They’ll use the network and cable news coverage to bash on Trump, McConnell and senate Republicans. They’ll use the hearings to prop up their senate candidates while pilfering any conservative within shouting distance.
If the Democrats turn the process into a circus -- which everyone knows will happen -- they will assure one sad fact: Ruth Bader Ginsburg will have profoundly affected the world much more with her death than her consequential life. From here on out, Ginsburg’s name will be associated with the 2020 election and doddering Joe Biden’s candidacy. Is this what they really want?
For better or worse, Trump sees this as a challenge too juicy to bypass
If we’ve learned anything about Donald Trump in the five years he’s dominated the political world, it’s that he enjoys a good fight. Whereas many career politicians run and hide at the prospect of confrontation and disagreement, Trump relishes it. For this reason, it’s more than likely he’ll view the open Supreme Court seat as the right forum to set more distinctions between himself and the American left.
Michael Goodwin wrote at The New York Post, “A sixth conservative on the Court could be dynamite to Democrats on numerous issues, including abortion, religious liberty, law enforcement, immigration and racial quotas.
“Dems often look to the federal courts to approve measures they can’t get through Congress. The prospect of that avenue being closed has led to talk within the party that, the next time they hold Congress and the White House, they would expand the court to perhaps 13 members.
“Knowing that, Republicans have both the right and a reason to use their power until the congressional term ends Jan. 3. Indeed, because the confirmation likely would not be settled by Election Day, it’s conceivable that the Senate could take its final votes in late December, even though some members of both parties may have lost their elections.”
There are a lot of scenarios at play here, including a close election that’s still in doubt going into December. The prospect of a contested result moving to the Supreme Court for a determination would bring disastrous consequences to the country. Imagine having the short-handed Court be called to solve a controversy and they split 4-4. Chief Justice John Roberts has been unreliable in the last decade or so and few would put it past him to join with the liberal bloc (Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan) to muck up the waters once again.
Who decides? There’s no easy answer. We’re living in extraordinary times. Pray everything is settled peacefully. God’s wisdom has never been so necessary.
As if the 2020 election could get any more divisive and stranger, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death added another ingredient to a pot that’s already boiling over. In the coming days, President Trump will make a monumental decision that could determine the fate of the 2020 election and his presidential legacy. Either way, it’ll be fascinating to watch.
Supreme Court list
Ruth Bader Ginsburg death
Trump Supreme Court list
Amy Coney Barrett