By Robert A. Vella
The liberal champion of the U.S. Supreme Court has died. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was 87 years old and had suffered from multiple bouts of cancer. Her passing wasn’t at all unexpected, but it surely is untimely considering the dire political straights this country is in right now.
Had she survived until after the inauguration of the next president, the fate of the nation rested squarely in the hands of the American people. The 2020 election would have, and may still yet, choose the course between democracy and fascism, and the course between a constitutional republic and a dictatorship. However, that fate will now be decided by a handful of Republicans in the U.S. Senate and a handful of conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.
What will they do? If they want to, these ten or so individuals could enable President Trump to steal the election through a variety of means I detailed yesterday on this blog; and, should they do so, there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do to stop him. I’m not saying that they will do such a thing, but I am saying that they could do it. Think about that, folks. How could so much power be given to so few people?
I’ll tell you how. The political Left in America, and particularly liberals, are egregiously inept in terms of strategy and tactics. Until recently, when the dangerous threat posed by Donald Trump became obvious, they couldn’t or wouldn’t understand that societies govern themselves through competition. These battles for political power can be waged civilly and relatively cooperatively in a democracy, or they can be waged brutally and forcefully under various forms of authoritarianism. The idea of universal social harmony and togetherness which took root in liberal philosophy since the 1960s is a nonsensical fallacy. Although it is admirable to have such goals, it is sheer stupidity to expect that human nature would suddenly change en masse just because it is a good idea. Additionally, the fractured state of the left-wing is equally absurd. To watch environmental groups fighting with labor unions or progressives fighting with centrists, while all are being simultaneously assaulted by the far-right, is perhaps the greatest exercise in futility I’ve ever had the displeasure of witnessing.
The recent history of the Supreme Court provides perfect examples. During President Obama‘s second term, Democrats urged Ruth Bader Ginsburg to resign due to her age and health concerns. She refused, and put her own personal desires above the larger interests of the nation. In contrast, Justice Anthony Kennedy stepped-down from the court in 2018 to allow Trump to fill the vacancy with a younger, more conservative nominee (Brett Kavanaugh); and, two years earlier in 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow Obama to replace the deceased Antonin Scalia who Trump replaced with Neil Gorsuch in 2017. All this changed the ideological composition of the Supreme Court to what is now a 5-3 conservative majority which will soon become 6-3.
A decade ago, a Republican right-winger whom I was fiercely debating on another blog told me that “I was on the wrong side.” He was correct – not because I agreed with his extreme beliefs (I most vigorously disagreed), but because he respected my understanding of politics, strategic acumen, and determination to stand firmly on principle.
Yesterday afternoon, when the Ruth Bader Ginsburg news broke amidst heavy thunderstorms over my home, it made me come to terms with my own futility. I cannot quantify the benefit of The Secular Jurist since its inception eight years ago, but whatever it meant to readers and observers has now been overtaken by events. It is time for younger, more energetic, and more capable fighters to take-up the mantle. I am shutting-down this site, retiring from blogging, and hope to live-out the rest of my years as peacefully as possible.
Best wishes, good luck, and farewell to you all.
WASHINGTON — The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday instantly upended the nation’s politics in the middle of an already bitter campaign, giving President Trump an opportunity to try to install a third member of the Supreme Court with just weeks before an election that polls show he is currently losing.
The White House had already made quiet preparations in the days before Justice Ginsburg’s death to advance a nominee without waiting for voters to decide whether to give Mr. Trump another four years in the White House. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, vowed Friday night to hold a vote on a Trump nominee but would not say whether he would try to rush it through before the Nov. 3 vote in what would surely be a titanic partisan battle.
If Mr. Trump were able to replace Justice Ginsburg, a liberal icon, it could cement a conservative majority for years to come, giving Republican appointees six of the nine seats. While Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. lately has sided at times with the four liberals on issues like immigration, gay rights and health care, he would no longer be the swing vote on a court with another Trump appointee.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the most endangered Republican incumbent, told The New York Times this month that she would not favor voting on a new justice in October. “I think that’s too close, I really do,” she said.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told an interviewer on Friday shortly before the announcement of Justice Ginsburg’s death that she opposed confirming a new justice before the election. “I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee,” she said. “We are 50 some days away from an election.”