Day 43: The Ginsburg Factor

“So this is the little lady who made this big war!”
Abraham Lincoln to Harriet Beecher Stowe

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday. The Supreme Court justice’s tiny body was barely cold before Democratic and Republican partisans began rattling their verbal sabers and licking their lips, perversely eager for a dangerous new battle to begin. Democrats envision catastrophe if Republicans put a new justice on the court, a response that’s like shooting up the badly ailing Republicans with adrenaline. Each side sees something terribly momentous at stake in the matter of a single judicial appointment. No matter that there will always be another vacancy, another justice who retires or dies.

Neither side acknowledges that what they are claiming with so much vehemence is harmful to the Court, disrespectful of the Constitution, or possibly untrue. Neither side admits that the justices on the Supreme Court are independent and that by and large (except for Clarence Thomas) they are extremely capable, well-meaning people who’ve been doing a good job. In just this last session, the justices declared Trump’s DACA order invalid and recognized the Native American Creeks’ right to judge certain crimes in the eastern half of Oklahoma–an unprecedented recognition of their historical tribal rights. The federal adjudication of abortion is no longer the same all-or-nothing issue it once was, yet Democrats and Republicans are beating that drum again. It’s one of our era’s most overused battle cries. The Supreme Court would matter less if the parties were more moderate and Congress were doing a better job of making law.

Democrats must tamp down their hysteria and focus on winning the White House and breaking the Republicans’ hold on power. Democrats who allow themselves to be cast as victims should instead ponder why their party has had so much trouble competing in the South and Great Plains. Most of the Democratic Party’s problems spring from its failure to devise a more bread-and-butter ideology that resonates with a broader swath of Americans.

Democrats who want to restore balance to the judiciary must first restore balance in the two branches of government that are no longer functioning. We must elect Joe Biden, and we must all work to restore Congress, which has become a place where national dreams go to die.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg being sworn in by Chief Justice Rehnquist as her husband Martin and president Bill Clinton look on,
from this source.

2 responses

  1. Susan, thanks for talking me off the ledge. I was one of the hysterical people you referred to, but your reasoned comments have calmed me. Earlier today I’ve been thinking to just let the process take its course, and this post has reinforced that.

    • This particular post dispensed advice that’s easy to give and tough to follow! I do mind the partisanship that exercises a power just for the sake of rubbing a minority the wrong way. But the ongoing “blame game” is so repugnant that I don’t care which side wins any more. In fact, there can’t be a “winner” because, well, justices behave unexpectedly and justices die.