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I was doing something at my computer yesterday evening when my wife laid the news on me: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. My reaction wasn’t quite as though I had been punched in the gut, but it wasn’t much better than that. In the best of times, a loss of that nature would be considerable and its impact profound. Considering the current state of both American politics and jurisprudence, this news is potentially cataclysmic.

From the time of her entry into the American judicial system, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been a tireless force for human rights. Her initial fights were, indeed, on her own behalf and those of her fellow women, fighting for equal treatment in a milieu where men effectively owned the field and women were simply not present. Her excellent track record was rewarded in 1993 when then President Clinton nominated her to the Supreme Court, only the second woman to be so honored, after Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. After debate on Ginsburg’s nomination, the Senate confirmed her to the highest court in the land by a sweeping 96-3 vote.

Once commissioned to the court, Ginsburg continued her ongoing fight for the rights of women, in education (United States v. Virginia), in employment (Ledbetter v. Goodyear), and as regards abortion rights (Stenberg v. Carhart), among multiple other instances. Of interest to atheists will be her objection to the inscription of “in the year of our Lord” on Supreme Court certificates, which was noted and changes implemented for those bar members who so opted. Her fiery opinions and pointed dissents earned her the sobriquet: “Notorious R.B.G.,” which she wore with great good humor.

Justice Ginsburg’s death puts the state of the US Supreme Court in a highly contentious position. Four years ago, when Merrick Garland was nominated for the court by Barack Obama, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell announced that he would not consider that nomination, citing as his reasoning that 2016 was an election year. While that excuse was loudly denounced by Democrats, no action was taken, and with the election of Donald Trump, Neil Gorsuch was subsequently nominated and confirmed by the Senate in early 2017. Now in 2020, McConnell has stated that he will take swift action upon the proposal of a successor to Ginsburg in the Senate – in an election year. Hypocrisy, even writ this large, apparently matters little to him.

With this event, many rights hang in the balance: women’s rights; gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans rights; immigrant rights, documented and undocumented; will now be exposed to a court whose balance has been skewed severely to the conservative end of the spectrum. Yet one more right-wing ideologue added to The Nine will have an impact which will remain with that body for decades. Those Americans who participate on Atheist Universe now have our work cut out for us in putting the brakes on the bum’s rush confirmation process which will, without doubt, commence the moment Trump puts his choice before the Senate. I have my own fight ahead of me in the person of Senator Rob Portman, who has a VERY bad habit of deferring to Trump’s judgment, particularly regarding judicial appointments. And despite the very large shadow Ginsburg threw on the court during her tenure, it is doubtful that the Senate will honor the hope she expressed to her granddaughter: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Ginsburg was a giant of jurisprudence. I will not see her replaced by a midget. Time to go to work again, people.

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Comment by Loren Miller on September 25, 2020 at 6:35am

Joan, the saddest thing about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, other than that she is no longer with us, is that she was such a rare breed: poised and well-spoken, yet utterly focused and determined to make this world a better place, particularly for women but also for EVERYONE.

That her replacement likely does not measure up to those standards at all should appall anyone facing that fact.

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 24, 2020 at 11:54pm

Ginsburg stood with Clinton in the Rose Garden for the announcement of her Supreme Court nomination on June 14, 1993.  She brought tears to the president’s eyes with a tribute to her mother. 

“I pray that I may be all that she would have been had she lived in an age when women could aspire and achieve and daughters are cherished as much as sons.”

Comment by Stephen on September 23, 2020 at 10:54am

Boris and his cohorts are as big a hypocrites as they come but don't think even they would get away with something like this. 

Comment by Loren Miller on September 23, 2020 at 7:43am

Onyango, as it comes to "face" with these Republicans, insofar as I can tell:

They Don't Care.

What they care about is power, having power, wielding power, and maintaining their position, regardless of whatever collateral damage may occur.

I don't mind telling you: I'm scared out of my wits right about now.

Comment by Onyango Makagutu on September 23, 2020 at 1:25am

Loren how do these Repubs even save face when they have done such an about turn? Do the electorate matter or that's not their problem?

Comment by Loren Miller on September 22, 2020 at 5:50pm

Stephen, they've been all over it, ABC, CBS, and NBC, plus my buds at MSNBC, particularly Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell.  If it's news (and it IS), it's OLD news.  Hell, I needed no reminding, as I remember too well how Merrick Garland was treated in 2016.  Put bluntly, Trump and McConnell don't give a shit ... PERIOD.  They figure they can get away with it, so why not?

The Republican Party, with precious few exceptions, has become utterly shameless.

Comment by Stephen on September 22, 2020 at 4:43pm

Loren tell me! as you live in the USA, has the main media not reminded the Republicans of their attitude a year before the 2016 election, not six weeks like now. I know I'm repeating myself but the hipocracy of the GOP is just unbelievable.

Comment by Loren Miller on September 22, 2020 at 4:23pm

Yeah, I saw that a few hours ago ... and I did my best not to vomit.

Comment by Stephen on September 22, 2020 at 3:52pm

Mitt Romney clears way for Trump to push through fastest Supreme Court nomination in history

"(There's no hypocrite like a Conservative hypocrite)"

Republican Senator Mitt Romney said on Tuesday he would support holding a Senate confirmation vote for Donald Trump's US Supreme Court nominee, giving the president a crucial boost in his bid to install a conservative replacement for the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Mr Romney's announcement made it even more unlikely that Democrats will be able to block Senate confirmation of the Republican president's third appointment to the nine-member high court.

Mr Trump has said he plans to announce his nominee by the end of the week.

While he has criticised Mr Trump on some matters and even voted to remove him from office in the February impeachment trial, Mr Romney said he would support considering the president's appointment this year even so close to the November 3 presidential election.

Democrats have said the Senate should wait until after voters decide whether to re-elect Mr Trump or chose his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

"My decision regarding a Supreme Court nomination is not the result of a subjecting test of 'fairness' which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder," Mr Romney said in a statement.

"I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the President's nominee," he said.

Republicans hold a 53-47 edge in the Senate, but two of them, Maine's Susan Collins and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, have said the chamber should not move forward with a Trump nominee before the election.

But two more Republicans would have to oppose moving forward with confirmation in order for Democrats to be able to block it. A Trump appointee would give the court a 6-3 conservative majority.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/mitt-romney-clears-way-for-tru...

Comment by Loren Miller on September 22, 2020 at 7:09am

Sadly, Onyango, I've seen the two front runners for the SCOTUS seat, and both of them, to put it mildly, are to the right of Attila the Hun!  Right now, everything in my gut says that this will NOT go well.

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