Nisa Quarles ‘21, Madeline Hopper ‘21, David Donoghue ‘21
It brings the Editors-in-Chief of The Exchanged great sadness, and it brings America an incalculable sense of loss to hear that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court in American history, died yesterday evening at the age of 87. Her work on women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights earned her the affectionate nickname “The Notorious RBG,” and was heroized by many for her inspiring and indelible legacy that she will leave on America through her acts both on and off of the bench.
Ginsburg was renowned for her passionate dissents on many cases; she always stuck to what she believed was right, which earned her respect from Americans from both sides of the aisle. One such American was the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Him and Ginsburg had nearly opposite positions and records as jurists. Scalia and Ginsburg worked together in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and upon being appointed to the Supreme Court, Scalia wrote about Ginsburg, “She was the best of colleagues, as she is the best of friends. I wish her a hundred years.” Throughout Ginsburg and Scalia’s time on the court, their friendship was praised as a sign of unity that crosses the lines of political opinions.
However, there may not be such unity in the Senate for the next two months. Already, debate has been struck up about whether or not the Senate will confirm the candidate that President Trump will put forth—no Senate has confirmed a Justice during the last year of a presidency since William J. Brennan in 1956, under the Eisenhower administration. In more recent memory, 2016, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the court March of his final year in office, but the Republican Senate strongly opposed this nomination on the grounds that an outgoing president should not nominate a Justice after the primary process has begun. Democrats disagreed, saying that the Senate should confirm the nominee that the President puts forward, regardless of the timing. That nomination ended up being unsuccessful and eventually led to the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2017.
As we look forward to what will happen in 2020, here is what we know. The Trump administration will put forward a nominee, and some senators have already pledged support, while others have pledged to follow the precedent set in 2016. However, if Trump is able to garner 50 of the 53 Republican Senate votes, his nomination will likely be confirmed, as the Filibuster requiring three-fifths of Senators to agree on ending debate was removed in 2017.
Alfonso III, Fernando. “Live Updates: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Death Reactions and Tributes.” CNN, 18 Sept. 2020, www.cnn.com/us/live-news/ruth-bader-ginsburg-death-live-updates/index.html. Accessed 19 Sept. 2020.
Gstalter, Morgan. “Scalia’s Son Shares Anecdotes about Father’s Friendship with Ginsburg | TheHill.” TheHill, The Hill, 19 Sept. 2020, thehill.com/homenews/news/517204-scalias-son-shares-anecdotes-about-fathers-friendship-with-ginsburg. Accessed 19 Sept. 2020.
amy-howe. “Supreme Court Vacancies in Presidential Election Years.” SCOTUSblog, SCOTUSblog, 14 Feb. 2016, www.scotusblog.com/2016/02/supreme-court-vacancies-in-presidential-election-years/. Accessed 19 Sept. 2020.