Column: After Ginsburg’s death, what comes next?

Zach Bray

On Friday, September 18th, 2020, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away at the age of 87. Known as Notorious RBG, or RBG, she was an icon and fighter for women’s rights. Born in 1933, she spent her life dedicated to fighting for a better world where equality was the law of the land. She argued four cases to the Supreme Court, which struck down discriminatory laws across the nation based on sex and helped shape constitutional law for decades. She has multiple movies and documentaries based on her, the most famous example being “On the Basis of Sex,” which followed her through her first Supreme Court case, where she argued a law that barred a male widow from taking shorter hours to raise his child. She was a respected figure across the political spectrum. Among her final words were, “My most fervent wish is that the next president choose my successor.”

Due to her death, a political crisis has been caused. President Donald Trump, and the Republican Senate, have begun the process of a replacement. This is a large contradiction from 2016, where Senate republicans blocked a replacement issued by Barack Obama. Republicans claim things are different because Republicans have the presidency and senate. Two Republican senators have already come out against a replacement, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Susan Collins. Trump has promised that his replacement would be a woman, still allowing for three women on the bench. However, a replacement would solidify a 6-3 conservative majority for decades to come. This in turn would likely see the overturning of many Supreme Court decisions, such as Roe v. Wade and LGBT+ marriage. This also would give Trump the most Supreme Court nominees and appointments in history. Like many political issues, there is opposition to a replacement.

Democratic senators and even Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden have all come out against such a replacement. They want to follow the 2016 Republican rhetoric of allowing for the next president to choose the replacement. Even if a replacement is made before the election, or during the lame-duck session, a Democrat idea has been floating around again. Pack the court is a judicial idea of adding more seats to a court, more specifically the Supreme Court, and pushing through appointments that would favor a balanced court or partisan court. Many Democrats and legal experts think that if Trump pushes a nominee and they get appointed, Biden and the Democrats would pack the court. This would be legal for the context that the Constitution mandates a Supreme Court, but not how many seats.


Zach Bray is a freshman political science major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]