Editorial, Issue 2 – Volume CX – RBG

Honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Memory

More stories from The Parker Weekly

Land Acknowledgement
October 11, 2021
Volume CXI, Issue 1
September 14, 2021

On Friday, September 18, families sitting down for Rosh Hashanah dinner or winding down from the work week were disrupted by shocking, and for some, devastating news –  Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had passed away. Moments after we heard the news, our social media was filled with posts both mourning her and wanting to replace her. 

Ginsburg was a cultural and political icon who fought for women’s rights, voting rights, and workers rights. She broke numerous glass ceilings over the course of her lifetime, a trailblazer whose conviction brought her to the highest court in the land, only the second woman to serve there.

Regardless of political affiliation, the historical and legal impact of Justice Ginsburg’s time on the court is undeniable. She leaves behind a legacy of careful jurisprudence, pointed dissents, and a steady dedication to her goals and principles for us all, whatever your thoughts on who should fill her seat on the bench next.  The vacancy means someone new will be appointed— someone that could rule to reverse the very rights she fought for. 

Surrounded by her family and loved ones, Ginsburg passed away from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. She has battled cancer for almost her whole tenure as a justice, while still serving on the bench and fighting for the rights of Americans. 

Many are mourning Ginsburg as a titan, an icon, or the stopgap between America and autocracy. She was also a mortal, frail octogenarian, who is sometimes criticized for her comments on Colin Kapernick, the lack of Black clerks in her staff, as well as not stepping down from the court during Obama’s presidency. As the nation waits for a new justice to be appointed, it gives us a chance to examine the system as a whole, the merits and drawbacks of lifetime appointments, and the hazards of glorifying our politicians and justices.  

As we consider long-term systemic implications, it’s also important to be aware of the next steps in the short-term. When a Supreme Court Justice passes away or retires, the president has the power to choose who will fill their seat, and the Senate either confirms or denies the nomination.

Following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, President Barack Obama attempted to fill Scalia’s seat with Merrick Garland. Senate Republicans blocked this move, arguing that he couldn’t, because it was 10 months before an election.

Ginsburg’s death occurred less than 50 days before the upcoming election. Early voting and mail-in voting had already begun in several states. But President Donald Trump, alongside other Republican members of Congress, are pushing to appoint Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative, while Trump remains in office. Coney Barrett is a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and was on the shortlist for Trump in 2018. 

With a potential six to three conservative majority, previous decisions can be overturned as soon as a similar case is brought to the court. Roe v. Wade, as well as other landmark cases that have ensured rights to marginalized groups, are in danger.

All previous cases that conservatives would disagree with won’t disappear immediately. The justices will slowly overturn prior cases as newer, similar cases work their way up to the Supreme Court. It will be a slow process and a series of decisions that may not hit the news cycle. That’s why we have to start paying attention to politics.

We cannot blame these issues on 2020. This year is not one bad year or a terrible fluke, that’ll be magically fixed once the clock turns to 12:00 am on January 1, 2021. As Parker students, we may not be directly affected by these issues, but if you are worried like us, you need to get involved to help fix them. 

If you are 18 or older, VOTE! Make sure to encourage your parents, older siblings, or anyone eligible to go to the polls as well. It doesn’t matter who you choose to vote for, but this is your constitutional right. Ginsburg didn’t fight for voting rights for nothing.

 If you are not yet eligible to vote, or want to do more, you can still voice your opinions by writing to senators or phone banking for political candidates. Email and mailing addresses are available online for all congresspeople. Visit individual websites of candidates you support to see how else you can help.

Voting is only a piece of the puzzle. It’s important to also take care of our own communities, communities that politicians often fail, by giving our time and when possible, our money, to organizations that are committed to women’s rights, immigrants rights, healthcare rights. As we work on the long-term issues coming to a head in 2020, we should also consider how we can make an immediate impact. 

The American Civil Liberties Union works to keep the Supreme Court in check and in line with the constitution. They fight for the same rights that Ginsburg did and more. On the ACLU website, there are events, petitions, and other ways to get involved in their work. 

Honoring Ginsburg’s legacy and being involved politically cannot end once we leave the classroom or Zoom meeting. It cannot end once we exit out of the Instagram app. We, as a Parker community, need to do more to protect everyone in our home we call America.