A Supreme Decision

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A memorial to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg includes a photograph of the late Justice, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, outside the Harvard Law School library at Langdell Hall, on the campus of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass. Ginsburg, who attended Harvard law school but transferred to Columbia, died Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, at the age of 87. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was one of the greatest legal thinkers of our era, and a kind and caring person on the whole, despite only choosing one black clerk, which is likely due to either her discriminating or to implicit bias, either by her or earlier in the process of becoming a Supreme Court clerk. Erin Monahan, in an interesting article, also shows how Ruth Bader Ginsburg may have hurt indigenous people and demonstrates a viewpoint which I have found dangerous in the modern Democratic party. This viewpoint concerns actions based on their outcomes on various groups, and even demands that one make decisions based on group outcomes or be considered racist. Ginsburg ruling against groups that she likely had great sympathy for is an excellent sign that she was a fair and balanced jurist. President Trump is preparing to nominate a new justice to the Supreme Court. Ginsburg’s death was sad, but is not an excuse to be biased regarding the vote on her successor. Instead, the best way to honor her legacy is to vote on her replacement as carefully as Ginsburg voted on each case she was given. As she fought for women’s equal rights, she knew that fairness was right, and she represented many men that had been discriminated against on the basis of sex as well as women. 

Unfortunately, many in the Senate are viewing this as a vote on the President rather than the justice. Richard Blumenthal, our senior senator, tweeted “This close to the election, there is no way that the United States Senate can or should act before the voters decide.”

Senator Blumenthal’s (@senblumenthal) statement, tweeted on Sept. 18th 2020.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a giant. The world is a different place because of her. More than the laws she forged are the lives she touched. She will always be an American icon—breaking barriers w/courage & conviction, & letting nothing stop her from the classroom to the courtroom.

As to the appointment of Ginsburg’s successor, I couldn’t improve on what McConnell said after Scalia’s death: The American people must have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.

This close to the election, there is no way that the United States Senate can or should act before the voters decide.

I believe, as our founding fathers did, that the process of installing a justice on our Supreme Court should be insulated from, not bound to, the momentary will of the people.  

Unfortunately Sen. Blumenthal appears to believe that voting on a justice is a way to express one’s views on the president and loyalty to one’s party, and is using the election as an excuse to avoid making his own judgement on Trump’s nominee rather than expressing confidence on her ability to faithfully interpret the Constitution and keep presidents and congresses in check throughout her period in office. Democrats across the country are saying this, when what they mean is that they believe that a justice will serve a president, and want the new justice to serve their president, Joe Biden. The way Blumenthal, as well as every other senator, can and should act after the President’s nomination is to carefully review the decisions and statements of the nominee, and even though this is a difficult job, senators could work together in groups they trust, assigning decisions to various senators and cross-checking each other’s opinions, just like we as students do on group projects in college.  

Another thing that every senator should remember is that part of their job, besides representing the country, is to represent their state and the powers given to that state’s government, including against acts of Congress, and even other senators that they may be close friends with. That is why a Supreme Court confirmation is one of their most solemn duties, as one’s vote either builds a legacy of guarding one’s state’s powers against federal overreach, or surrenders it for political advantage. There is a way to legitimately strengthen the federal government, but that is amendment, not misinterpretation. 

Chris Murphy, in an even more blatant act of partisanship, tweeted “I understand lots of people tune out court fights. But this one is different. A 6-3 court will strike down the Affordable Care Act, campaign donation limits, pollution controls, background checks, criminalize abortion, etc etc A 6-3 Court will fundamentally change the country”.

Connecticut state senator Chris Murphy’s (@ChrisMurphyCT) statement, tweeted on Sept. 22, 2020.

What he has done is crudely characterize justices as being on opposing sides based on the party of the president that nominated them, and insinuate that Trump’s nominee would rule for certain sides on certain issues. Some may argue that all justices do that, but I believe in the majority of cases where that is alleged to occur, differing good-faith interpretations and bringing up the 6-3 split proves that Murphy knows this is false, because if judges really did rule based on their side and not the law, a 5-4 Republican-appointed majority would make the same decisions as a 6-3 Republican-appointed majority. In fact, Chief Justice Roberts, appointed by President Bush Jr., has sided with the liberal-leaning justices numerous times.  If Trump’s nominee does in fact show signs of ruling on cases to fit her favored outcome, then that is a legitimate reason to vote against her, but for him to say she will do that before knowing who she is suggests that he will not consider her fairly and should recuse himself. 

I understand that other senators from other states are not considering this nomination fairly, but I am a Connecticut resident writing for the newspaper of the University of Connecticut, so my argument is regarding the biases of Connecticut senators. How other senators represent their states and people is not my valid concern, but their disproportionality to population is, and I propose fixing it by allowing any state or territory to unilaterally leave the union, where they have the opportunity to join unions with constitutions more favorable to their principles. It would still be wrong of me to interfere in the politics of those states, and no more justified than Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. 

Unfortunately the modern Republican party has the same narrow-minded politicized view of the judiciary as the Democratic, so voting for a Republican senator is likely not the solution, as they treated Judge Garland just as poorly as Democrats will likely treat Trump’s appointee. What I support is ranked choice voting so the people of Connecticut can vote for someone they can trust to do their job fairly first, and then engage in political calculations for lower ranks. 

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