Student Opinion: The Race to Replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Jose Orozco

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death has been the center of controversy and political debate. President Donald Trump has the opportunity to give Republicans a major advantage by appointing a Republican candidate. If this occurs, Democrats will respond with fervent backlash due to the hypocrisy of Mitch McConnell. 

We should attempt to remain cool and collected for the next election, even with the chaos ahead of us.

According to The New York Times, “If Mr. Trump were able to replace Justice Ginsburg, a liberal icon, it could cement a conservative majority for years, giving Republican appointees six of the nine seats.”

President Obama had a similar opportunity in 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. There was an opportunity to fill the seat with Merrick Garland, but Senator Mitch McConnell blocked Obama with the pretense of there being an election. So, how will McConnell
impose his political agenda this time?

The Washington Post has delved into the issue exposing McConnell’s convenient logic: “This time is different because the Senate and the presidency are held by the same party, which wasn’t the case when there was a vacancy in the last year of Obama’s presidency.”

Indeed, his argument fools no one while his intentions are in full display.

Senator Chuck Schumer tweeted, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

If this sounds familiar, it is because they are McConnell’s own words. The New York Times elaborates: “[Schumer’s] words were not accidental. They were a verbatim recitation of what Mr. McConnell said in his surprising announcement in February 2016 immediately after Justice Scalia’s death.”

Yet it seems like Senator McConnell will proceed against his own advice. And with good reason, “Democrats are in the minority now, and are virtually powerless to block Mr. Trump and Senate Republicans from moving ahead to fill a vacancy in the court if they decide they want to do so.”  

 But what about Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Would she have wanted this?

According to NPR, Ginsburg directed a statement to her granddaughter saying, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” 

This sentiment was in full force outside the Supreme Court on Thursday. President Trump paid his respects to Ginsburg while protestors chanted “Vote him out!” and “Honor her wish!” 

And without question, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing has increased tensions between the Democratic and Republican parties. 

This was something Ginsburg foresaw and would have wanted to avoid, saying that “she hoped to serve as long as [Justice John Paul Stevens] did — until age 90.”

Now that we cannot escape this reality, we should look for her advice. Ginsburg had a larger than life persona. She vehemently fought for the equality of both men and women. Let us look at what she believed and hold it dear.

Personally, Ginsburg’s advice on having a successful marriage in Jeffrey Rosen’s biography, “Conversations with RGB: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Love,” has had a profound impact on me.

Ginsburg provides an anecdote from her stepmother, “Dear, in every good marriage, it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.” 

This is an invaluable lesson that shows us to tune out unproductive, negative emotions. Even though the actions of Senator McConnell are definitely infuriating, we should attempt to stay level-headed. 

Trying to do so will be extremely difficult and there is not a direct guideline to follow. For instance, I feel that the protestors chanting “Honor her wish!” was appropriate but chanting “Vote him out!” was out of place. 

Nonetheless, during this upcoming election, we should find the balance that Ginsburg alludes to. Every time Ginsburg opposed oppressive views in court, she left us a template to follow. She did not rage by yelling out expletives; instead, she calmly paved a path for everyone’s freedom.

The Trump Administration should decide to honor Ginsburg’s wish and put an end to the conflict. Otherwise, I fear this year will become even more tempestuous than the last. Unfortunately, this is not the case as Trump plans to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace her. 

Judge Barrett is the favorite pick for the Republicans.   

The New York Times reports: “The president’s political advisors hope the selection will energize his conservative political base in the thick of an election campaign in which he has for months been trailing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his Democratic challenger.” 

“But it could also rouse liberal voters afraid that her confirmation could spell the end of Roe v. Wade, the decision legalizing abortion, as well as other rulings popular with the political left and center.”

Undoubtedly, this is an issue that allows conservatives to diminish the liberties which Ginsburg stood for. 

Regrettably, what Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt said during the ceremony will not occur: “Now, she must be permitted to rest, after toiling so long for all of us.” Instead, Ginsburg’s death will be used to boost a presidential platform. 

Hopefully, this indecency will entice more individuals to vote. Hopefully, the electoral college will not contradict the popular vote once more.

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  1. Tia Will

    Thank you for the article, Jose. It is good to hear one young person’s perspective on this issue.

    Regrettably, what Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt said during the ceremony will not occur: “Now, she must be permitted to rest, after toiling so long for all of us.” Instead, Ginsburg’s death will be used to boost a presidential platform.”

    I have a different perspective from what you have expressed. Despite what the Rabbi said, there is nothing anyone can do that will prevent RBG from having her “rest” whatever we may perceive that to be. However, I believe RBG would have wanted those still living to use every tool in their box to promote the equality so dear to her heart, even if that included invoking her name.

  2. Keith Olsen

    Democrats need to quit crying about this because we all know if there was a Democrat president and a Democrat Senate they would be ramming though their own liberal judge.

    1. Eric Gelber

      we all know …

      No we don’t. After Mitch McConnell and his Senate GOP invertebrates literally stole a Supreme Court seat in 2016, it’s likely that Democrats would return the favor as a matter of equity. But McConnell’s willful power grab was unprecedented and you don’t “know” the Democrats would do the same but for that. I can understand why you’d think that, though, given how maintaining power is the far right’s sole guiding principle.

        1. Tia Will


          It is interesting to me that you brought up the “but the Democrats” would do the same card, which of course is a bit of self-serving crystal ball reading since we have no way of knowing what Dems would do in the same situation, and only then resorted to “but the situation is not the same” when no such exception was made in McConnell’s rationale for not allowing Garland’s nomination to be heard. Extremist power grab, pure and simple.

        2. Keith Olsen

          Not at all, the GOP controlled the Senate at the time.  Just as the Democrats rammed through a sham impeachment on Trump because they controlled the House.

          “Elections have consequences” as Obama once so smugly stated.

  3. Ron Oertel

    I’m thinking that one’s position on this should depend upon the selectee’s skin color (and perhaps gender), rather than process.  According to some. 😉

    For example, we all know that a female would be more supportive of abortion rights. 😉

      1. Ron Oertel

        That would seem to (potentially) depend more upon religious beliefs, than anything else.  That is, if one cannot interpret law (separately) from beliefs (or values).

        Seems to me that a lot of what the court system is asked to provide is the result of failures within the legislative branch (either from oversights, or lack of sufficient political/national will). Maybe true for abortion rights, as well.

        In other words, “conservatives” and “liberals” should (theoretically) be able to interpret the law in a very similar manner.

        Of those two groups, I understand that “conservative” justices are more likely to adhere to the letter of the law, whether or not it’s subjectively “just” or “fair”.


        1. Don Shor

          In other words, “conservatives” and “liberals” should (theoretically) be able to interpret the law in a very similar manner.

          See ‘originalism’ vs ‘living constitutionalism’.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Thanks – I think I recall the issue, if not the names.

          Some (mostly conservatives, I think) call the latter “activist” judges.

          But yeah – they didn’t have assault rifles, when they wrote the second amendment.  Not sure if it would have made any difference.

          Of course, slavery was also (somehow) legal back in the day. Stunning. And, the ability to deny women the vote, etc. But those were ultimately addressed by legislation.

          I stand by my comment that a lot of this is due to failure to act on reasonable legislation, in a timely manner.


        3. Ron Oertel

          Actually, I guess that one of those was addressed via proclamation, by an “activist” president.  (No, I’m not extremely knowledgeable regarding all of the legal nuances.)

          Couldn’t even tell you if there’s any other proclamations (or exactly what that means), though I’m sure I could look it up.

          I wonder why Trump isn’t issuing proclamations of one type or another. (No, I’m not really wondering – just musing.)

        4. Eric Gelber

          I understand that “conservative” justices are more likely to adhere to the letter of the law, whether or not it’s subjectively “just” or “fair”.

          You are confusing what conservative justices say they do and what they actually do. For example, there is no more egregious example of judicial activism than the 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. And watch what they do with stare decisis (the principle of following their own precedent) when it comes to abortion, the ACA, voting rights, etc.

        5. Ron Oertel

          Though I’m not sure what skin color, gender, or sexual preference they may have, corporations are people, too. 

          And, it’s well-past time that we stopped discriminating against them. 😉

  4. Ron Oertel

    At the risk of someone claiming that I’m engaging in gender or age bias, is that the best photo that could have been posted of Ginsberg?

    What’s that thing around her neckline, by the way?

    And if this was taken in the Supreme Court, don’t they provide “ergonomic” chairs? (No wonder she looks uncomfortable.) 😉

  5. Keith Echols

    I’m confused by this article.  The writer seems to assume that hypocrisy is an obstacle for conservatives to get what they want?  As if pointing out hypocrisy at this point is relevant?  I’m sure what political game show the writer has been watching over the last four years but it certainly hasn’t been been one of political rational and moral high ground.  The Republicans have been playing a political game of  blatant exercise in power.  So yes there will be another conservative supreme court judge.

    The true question is weather the Democrats want to escalate this political game of power.  If they some how win a majority in the Senate…win the White House….will they in an effort to defend liberal policies such as the Affordable Healthcare Act, DACA, Roe v. Wade…etc… appoint additional judges seats to the court?  It would open a political Pandora’s Box in the future as the Republicans would be more than willing to counter such efforts the next time they take control of Congress.  Should they continue to seek to abolish the Electoral College (which gives rural conservative states more importance in elections) or efforts by states to have their Electoral College voters vote with the national majority (which tends to align with liberals).  Should Democrats push for D.C. and Puerto Rico state hood and give them Senators?  Both project to be heavily liberal constituents.  All of these moves would be an open declaration of war on conservatives/republicans.   Now many would argue declaration has declared by conservatives when they tried to hold up federal budget approvals and blocked the appointment of a Supreme Court Judge and many federal judges.  But these moves by the democrats would escalate things.   So the question is weather or not the correct course of action by liberals is to play the power game to win or would it send the country into a political destabilization (more so than it already has) and push things over the edge?

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