Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a political figure of high respect and advocate for equality has died of complications related to pancreatic cancer.
Ginsburg, whose voice of reason in Supreme Court rulings led a movement of much-needed change was involved in sweeping political changes for all such as granting proper gender equality, rights to safer abortion, same-sex marriage and more, according to the New York Times.
Her sharp mind and bold dissent with regard to her cause made her a cultural icon and symbol of the feminist movement. Thousands gathered in front of the Supreme Court to pay their respects to Ginsburg.
As news of her death emerges, the argument over whether or not a Supreme Court justice be nominated during an election year resurfaces. This discussion brought itself to widespread public attention during February 2016, where many Republican officials argued that President Obama was not allowed the right to nominate a new judge.
In a statement made in 2016, according to CNN, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said: “There hasn’t been a vacancy created in a presidential election year filled in 80 years… so the vacancy will not be filled this year, We will look forward to the American people deciding who they want to make this appointment through their own votes.”
This was true.
The culmination of a vacancy, a nomination and a confirmation of a new Supreme Court judge last occurred in 1932 when president Franklin D. Roosevelt was faced with the death of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and appointed Benjamin Cardozo in his place, according to the United States Senate.
However, the stance McConnell takes in 2016 directly contradicts with his treatment of the death of justice Ginsburg. In a statement made on Friday, according to CNN, McConnell said: “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States senate.”
Although this does not directly state whether this would occur before or after the election, it is implied with the hasty delivery of the message that decisions will be made very soon. Doing so not only immensely contradicts his stance during Obama’s presidency but it is also a blatant disregard to Ginsburg’s dying wish, according to the New York Times: “I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
With this in mind, and with the election only a month and a half away, we need to consider a more reasonable alternative to finding a proper replacement for her Supreme Court seat.
A decision such as this can create a large ripple in the political landscape: Justices, who typically serve for 16 years, according to supremecourt.gov, are capable of reversing policies crucial to those who depend on them such as Roe v. Wade. This court ruling, which Ginsburg contributed to, can be cataclysmic if repealed for those who rely upon abortion in times of need.
In contrast to the tackling of this issue in 2016, the death of Justice Ginsburg has occurred in close proximity to the election, whereas the need for a Supreme Court replacement emerged in mid-February of the previous election year. This is why it is imperative that a nomination be made following the election; it would simply be unfair and morally unjust of Trump to fill a Supreme Court vacancy as he is quite possibly exiting office.
Amidst this heated political climate, disagreements over candidates for a replacement are undoubtedly inevitable. Ginsburg left with an enormous impact and filling her vacancy should be challenging. A simple yet effective solution would be to hand the decision to voters across the country, not a singular group of people.
Authorizing a nomination to occur once the election campaign has ceased would give Americans the opportunity to vote on a new Justice, allowing for an equitable assessment of the best fit to follow in Ginsburg’s footsteps.