Saturday, September 19, 2020

Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg Dies

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and a pioneering advocate for women’s rights, who in her ninth decade became a much younger generation’s unlikely cultural icon, died at her home in Washington on Friday. She was 87. The cause was complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer, the Supreme Court said.

By the time two small tumors were found in one of her lungs in December 2018, during a follow-up scan for broken ribs suffered in a recent fall, Justice Ginsburg had beaten colon cancer in 1999 and early-stage pancreatic cancer 10 years later. She received a coronary stent to clear a blocked artery in 2014.

Barely five feet tall and weighing 100 pounds, Justice Ginsburg drew comments for years on her fragile appearance. But she was tough, working out regularly with a trainer, who published a book about his famous client’s challenging exercise regime. As Justice Ginsburg passed her 80th birthday and 20th anniversary on the Supreme Court bench during President Barack Obama’s second term, she shrugged off a chorus of calls for her to retire in order to give a Democratic president the chance to name her replacement. She planned to stay “as long as I can do the job full steam,” she would say, sometimes adding, “There will be a president after this one, and I’m hopeful that that president will be a fine president.” 
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Ginsburg's demise will have both predictable and unforeseen consequences for the upcoming election and President Trump's presumed attempt to replace Ginsburg. The anger that Trump will nominate her replacement either in the short time left before the election or afterwards, should he be re-elected, may drive turnout among some Democratic leaning groups. 
Increased voter turnout is rarely good for Republicans. However if voter turnout increases in states that Republicans were going to lose anyway, then it doesn't matter. On the other hand some conservative Republicans are looking with distrust and even contempt at Chief Justice John Roberts. They would love to have a more consistent right wing voice on the bench. This may increase their turnout as well. 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said that there will be a confirmation vote for Trump's nominee. He has 53 Republicans in the Senate. He can lose up to three of them and still confirm a nominee. There's not much time left to do this before the election, so it's difficult to see how McConnell intends to accomplish it. But as we've learned, McConnell knows the Senate rules and procedures like few others. He also knows how to get votes. 
It is interesting (and there will be more on this later) that the dawning realization that Democrats have lost the Supreme Court and are in the process of losing the federal courts have caused many Democrat leaning folk to call for court packing schemes, the end of federal judicial life time tenure, or just outright rejection of judicial supremacy. In other words if you aren't winning, change the rules. Obviously there's a strong argument that Republicans have been doing this all along. So perhaps it's just human nature. 
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