On Sept. 18, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away from pancreatic cancer. Later that evening, after his Minnesota rally, a video of President Donald Trump surfaced, reacting to her death.
Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” played in the background while Trump praised Ginsburg for being a great woman and someone that he would truly miss. In reality, with his quickness to find someone to replace her, it seems as if Trump may try to wash away most of her work. Ginsburg was the pinnacle of equality and a role model for millions of Americans. With Ginsburg’s passing, we may see an entirely different Supreme Court within the next several generations.
Ginsburg received her education at Cornell University and then went to Harvard Law. There, she faced gender-based discrimination. She was chastised by some of the highest authorities for taking a man’s spot at the school, despite being one of nine women among a 500-person class. With one year of law school left, she transferred to Columbia Law School and graduated first in her class in 1959 while also working at a law firm in New York City.
Despite her phenomenal academic record, she still faced several counts of gender-based work discrimination. She was offered jobs at several law firms, but usually at a much lower salary than her male counterparts.
In 1972, she started teaching at Columbia and she became the first female professor to earn tenure. During the 1970s, Ginsburg also directed the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She became the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court when President Bill Clinton appointed her in 1993.
Ever since the start of her career, she proved numerous times that she was a force to be reckoned with and overcame several counts of adversity. She did not miss a day of oral arguments until she was 85, even when she was going through chemotherapy for her pancreatic cancer, was suffering from colon cancer and mourning the death of her late husband Marty.
Her resilience and legacy is one that is hard to compare to. Not only did she leave a mark on our nation, but also a mark in the hearts of many by moving our nation forward in legal equality.
Just days before Ginsburg’s death, she told her granddaughter Clara Spera: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” After Trump heard of her passing, he was respectful and said that she led an amazing life, but he later declared without proof that her wish was a hoax created by the Democratic Party.
He had already created a list of potential candidates to appoint, showing disregard for her sentiment. Before Ginsburg’s death, there were five Republicans and four Democrats on the Supreme Court, yet Trump swore in a Tweet that he will fill her seat “without delay.” He recently announced in his now pinned Tweet that he will nominate Republican judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace her.
Throughout his presidency, Trump has appointed two Supreme Court judges, conservatives Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, to replace fellow conservatives Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy.
Having six conservative judges on the Supreme Court could mean that the societal contour that has been in place for the past 40 years could morph, as six to three is a much higher majority than five to four. Decisions on several fundamental issues, like abortion rights, voting rights, same-sex marriage and gun control could be shifted. Ginsburg has played a role in granting these rights throughout her career.
For example, in 2015, she assisted in the five to four ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, as well as voting to keep religious exemptions within narrow boundaries. With a new, conservative judge in the court, this could mean that we lose a lot of these rights.
Barrett is a very well known conservative. As someone who worked with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Trump believed that she was someone that he thought would be ideal for the position.
At the 2017 confirmation hearing for the Seventh Circuit, she declared that she does not allow her Catholic beliefs to ever get in the way of her work, although she has had an association with the religious group People Of Praise, whose board of governors are all male and have referred to women as “handmaidens” in the past.
They don’t use this term anymore, but one of their spokespersons had declared that they run their community with the New Testament approach that the husband is the head of the family. With this, there could potentially be some bias when it comes to certain Supreme Court rulings.
Granted, Barrett said that her personal religious affiliation would not affect her duties as a judge, but in the words of Senator Dianne Feinstein, which were directed towards Barrett: “The dogma lives loudly within you.”
The Monday after Ginsburg’s passing, Trump’s campaign unveiled T-shirts that read, “FILL THAT SEAT,” reminiscent of slogans such as “build that wall” and “lock her up” that are repeated at his rallies. In response, as Ginsburg’s coffin was laid at the Supreme Court, a large crowd chanted “vote him out.”
Trump’s actions have outraged several million Americans. In order to fight against his misbehavior and negligence as a leader, we need to vote.
Not voting is giving up your voice, and while one voice may not seem as powerful, several voices saying the same thing can spark a chant that can create change.
Casting your ballot leads to an opportunity to make a difference. Not casting your ballot leads to an opportunity for our country to become even more partisan and one-sided, which is not representative of our nation as a whole.
Adam Flowers is a freshman music education major. Reach him at email@example.com.