We should wait to replace the Notorious R.B.G.


Bethany Abrams

Graphic by Alyssa Duckett.
On Friday, Sept. 18, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) passed away, and the collective conversation of the nation shifted to the selection of a new Supreme Court justice to replace her. In order to maintain a level of consistency and fairness, I think that it is best to wait until after the election, which is less than two months away.
Justice Ginsburg was nothing short of a highly respected legend who advocated for women’s rights and equality on the basis of sex. Before she was appointed, she argued six cases before the Supreme Court that involved gender biases for both men and women. As a Supreme Court justice, she continued breaking barriers through her willingness to voice her dissents and her contributions to rid the nation of sexism.
Even after she died, she continued to form legacies as she became the first woman to lie in state in the U.S Capitol. This is a great honor that shows how renowned she was for her achievements throughout her life.
When news of her death circulated, many found themselves filled with sorrow and even fear for the future. Who will replace her? When will they replace her? Will the new nominee live up to RBG’s legacy?
An important thing to note, and a reason why it seems best to wait, is that RBG herself had said she did not wish to be replaced right away. According to NPR, there is a record of Ginsburg saying to her granddaughter a few days before her death. “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg said.
Due to this statement, I believe waiting until after the election would pay respect to one of her last dying wishes.
However, that is not the only reason why some individuals, including myself, believe the replacement process should slow down. Back in 2016, a similar event happened in the election year where an associate justice of the Supreme Court had passed away and needed replacing. The associate justice at the time, Antonin Scalia, passed away Feb. 13, 2016.
Although that was more than nine months away from the election date, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denied President Obama’s nomination choice of Merrick Garland. McConnell expressed that the replacement should occur after the election in order to give voters a chance to convey their voice through who they vote for President.
However, now with a similar event resurfacing, McConnell endorses the idea of replacing RBG as soon possible. According to PBS NewsHour, McConnell believes this is a different circumstance because, unlike in 2016, a republican majority controls both the Senate and the White House. Therefore, he claims that it is most appropriate to have the Republicans decide on the nominee to maintain coherency.
This type of reasoning sets the country up for further partisanship and fragmentation. With the government being controlled by a republican majority, the better idea is to let the election play out before asserting more partisan power. By doing this, it prevents any divisive decisions from taking place immediately.
The debate of replacement has also led to unrest and distrust among individuals of differing parties. Through waiting, I believe we can lessen that disagreement by leaving it up to the fate of the election.
On Saturday, Sept. 26, President Trump officially nominated Amy Coney Barrett as his pick for Supreme Court justice. According to CNN, Barrett explains in her nomination speech, “A judge must apply the law as written… judges are not policy makers.” Through her statement, Barrett establishes herself as an individual who does not wish to spread her own biases into court decisions, which seems to be a good thing.
However, there is no way to tell how an individual is going to behave and which principles they will adhere to in office until they are given that power. Therefore, I think that it is in this nation’s best interest for the United States Senate to wait to confirm any nomination until after the election. Through waiting, it allows time for the public and the senate to formulate a well-thought out decision on the nominee.
As a member of the Augustana college community, I witnessed many people’s reactions to Justice Ginsburg’s death that Friday. An overwhelming sense of sadness spread across student’s faces as their phones lit up with the tragic news. Although I cannot speak on behalf of everyone, it seemed many people wished to mourn and remember her accomplishments rather than to partake in any debate about her replacement.
Waiting to replace Justice Ginsburg gives people more time to mourn, allows her wishes to be respected, creates consistency and fairness between now and the events of 2016 and prevents disunity within the government and among the people.