On Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. Her death marks not only the end of the life of a paramount liberal justice, but also a further increase in political turbulence in the U.S.
Justice Ginsburg died due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer. She died in her home in Washington, D.C., at the age of 87.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg served as the second woman in the U.S. Supreme Court. She served from her appointment to the Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993 all the way up until her death.
Before and throughout her time on the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg championed women’s rights and sex equality, and was notable for her dissents, or opinions written by a justice who does not agree with the majority ruling.
In the 1996 United States v. Virginia case, Ginsburg led the Court in deeming the all-male admissions policy of the Virginia Military Institute unconstitutional.
In 2007, Lily Ledbetter sued Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. for gender discrimination due to pay inequality, and she eventually lost. The Court ruled that too much time had passed since Ledbetter made her claim, and Ginsburg dissented from the bench.
"The court does not comprehend or is indifferent to the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination," said Justice Ginsburg to the all-male court according to CNN.
In the 2007 Gonzales v. Carhart case, in which the court upheld a law outlawing a type of late-term abortion, Ginsburg dissented.
In the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder case, the Court’s decision, according to USA Today, “struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act.” Ginsburg wrote a dissent that, according to CNN, gave Justice Ginsburg the nickname “the Notorious R.B.G.” The nickname caused Justice Ginsburg to become more of a cultural icon among youth.
The normally nine-justice Supreme Court of the United States will feel the absence of Justice Ginsburg not only personally, but also in their decisions.
According to aljazeera.com, the court now has a 5–3 conservative majority, the potential for 4–4 splits, and “potentially more desire for compromise among the justices.”
aljazeera.com continues to explain that in the 14 month period in 2016 following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, the court was more likely to seek compromise and avoid taking up more controversial cases.
Donald Trump has already stated that he would like to nominate a new Justice before the presidential election on Nov. 3.
Despite this, NPR reported that just days before her death, Justice Ginsburg uttered the following phrase to her granddaughter Clara Spera:
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."
MarketWatch.com states that President Trump is citing the fact that the Court will have to make a ruling regarding the Nov. 3 election as the reason that it is necessary to confirm a new justice prior to Election Day.
“I think having a 4–4 situation is not a good situation, if you get that. I don’t know that you’d get that. I think it should be 8–0 or 9–0, but just in case it would be more political than it should be, I think it’s very important to have a ninth justice,” said President Trump.
After Trump names a nominee, the Senate must vote on whether or not to confirm them.
According to bbc.com, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to hold a confirmation vote before the election in November. This vow has placed Senator McConnell under scrutiny and accusations of hypocrisy.
In 2016, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland in February, and Senator McConnell stated that Supreme Court Justices should not be approved during an election year.
Now, Senator McConnell says that because the Senate and the White House are both held by Republicans, the nomination should carry on.
It is still uncertain if a new Justice will be confirmed prior to the election.
According to The Hill, Justice Ginsburg was memorialized on Wednesday, Sept. 23 in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court building. On Wednesday and Thursday her coffin was brought outside so that Americans can pay their respects. On Friday, she will be the first woman and the second Supreme Court Justice to lie in the U.S. Capitol.