It was heartbreaking news for Americans to hear on Sept. 18 that Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg (RBG), had passed from complications with pancreatic cancer. As the second female to obtain this position she fought very hard to make change in the U.S. throughout her lifetime.
Ginsberg was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1980 by Jimmy Carter then to the Supreme Court in 1993 by Bill Clinton. She struggled with a male dominated environment going to law school at Harvard. However, this did not stop Ginsberg from academically excelling and becoming the first female member of the Harvard Law Review.
As a judge on the Supreme Court she prioritized the idea of gender equality, the rights of workers, and the separation of church and state. Her ruling was essential for Obama’s Afforable Care Act and same sex marriage.
Although Ginsberg continued to age through her 80s, she felt it was vital to keep her position on the Supreme Court through Donald Trump’s presidency because of their major clash in political values.
In the years 2016 to 2018 she released content from memoirs to a Sundance Film Festival film about her life. The memoir released her writings dating back to when she was in junior high. The film was essential to the #MeToo Movement which discussed her experience with a Cornell professor. The film also allowed her to speak on the importance of free press which President Trump had previously challenged.
Her passing this September was daunting for many American people as Ginsberg was an essential figure in the feminist movement and such an important advocate for minorities in general. This also led to Democrats being concerned about Trump filling her position with a conservative and lowering the liberal representation on the court. Federal healthcare and reproduction rights could be in jeopardy without Ginsberg on the court.
It was Ginsberg’s hope that her position would be filled after the 2020 election so that there was a chance for her replacement to share her ideals and continue progress in the U.S. However, Trump almost immediately chose a conservative woman to fill her position. Democrats are continuing to fight to postpone the replacement in hopes that Biden could choose someone else.
In the recent vice-presidential debate, Senator Kamala Harris pointed out the parallel between the RBG situation and the re-election of Abraham Lincoln in 1864. A month before the election, a position opened on the Supreme Court. However, Lincoln decided not to fill the position until after the next president was elected because he felt it was the ethical thing to do.
Harris said that President Trump should follow the respectable example that Lincoln set in 1864 in that the American people should get a say in who chooses the next position for one of the highest honors in our country’s government.
As further action is taken to fill RBG’s spot, we can only hope that she can be honored by a new Justice that can take her ideas a step further and continue social progress in the U.S.