Just hours after her death, Barack Obama weighed in on Ruth Bader Ginsburg's legacy in a poignant post on Medium. Obama called Ginsburg a champion of women’s rights in her battle to achieve equality and fulfill America’s potential as a nation.
“[F]or nearly three decades, as the second woman ever to sit on the highest court in the land, she was a warrior for gender equality — someone who believed that equal justice under law only had meaning if it applied to every single American,” writes Obama, the 44th President who appointed two additional women to the Supreme Court during his two terms in the White House.
He went on to thank Justice Ginsburg for her work.
“Justice Ginsburg inspired the generations who followed her, from the tiniest trick-or-treaters to law students burning the midnight oil to the most powerful leaders in the land. Michelle and I admired her greatly, we’re profoundly thankful for the legacy she left this country, and we offer our gratitude and our condolences to her children and grandchildren tonight.”
Ginsburg passed away on Friday (September 18) after losing her battle with cancer at the age of 87.
Ginsburg’s death sets the stage for another royal battle between Democrats and Republicans over the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice. In February 2016, after conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked Obama’s constitutional right to nominate a replacement, arguing it was an election year. Now, Mr. Obama is asking the same for a replacement for Ginsburg since the 2020 presidential Election Day is only 45 days away.
“Four and a half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on [his nominee] Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in,” Obama writes.” A basic principle of the law — and of everyday fairness — is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment.”
Further, Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, claimed in 2018 that if a Supreme Court vacancy would present itself during an election year while Donald Trump was president, he would not hold hearings for that vacancy until after the election.
"If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump's term, and the primary process has started, we'll wait to the next election," said Graham.
But McConnell has already stated that he plans to proceed with the nomination process.
Supreme Court Justice and women's rights icon Ruth Bader Ginsberg has died, the Supreme Court confirmed to news outlets on Friday evening (September 18). She passed away from complications associated with metastatic cancer of the pancreas and died in Washington, D.C. surrounded by family, according to a statement from the Court.
"Our nation has lost a justice of historic stature," Chief Justice John Roberts said. "We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her, a tired and resolute champion of justice."
Just days before her death, according to NPR Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."
Ginsburg was instrumental to the legal fight for women's rights in the 1970s, and subsequently served 27 years on the Supreme Court. Known affectionately as the "Notorious R.B.G," she became the nation's highest court's most prominent member in recent years.
The vacancy of a Supreme Court seat will undoubtedly impact the upcoming election as the political battle to replace Ginsburg with a more conservative, Trump endorsed selection ensues.The next appointment to the Supreme Court will have consequences for generations to come deciding on a multitude of issues related to anything from the Affordable Care Act to the Voting Rights Act and more.
Bader Ginsgberg is survived by survived by her two children: Jane Carol Ginsburg(George Spera) and James Steven Ginsburg (Patrice Michaels), four grandchildren: Paul Spera (Francesca Toich), Clara Spera (Rory Boyd), Miranda Ginsburg, Abigail Ginsburg, two step-grandchildren: Harjinder Bedi, Satinder Bedi, and one great-grandchild: Lucrezia Spera. Her husband, Martin David Ginsburg, died in 2010.
Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images