clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Mourn for now the death of a great American — and wait until 2021 to replace her

To shove a Trump nominee for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s U.S. Supreme Court seat through the Senate now, weeks before the November election, would be the ultimate act of hypocrisy and betrayal by the GOP.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Chicago in 2013.
Sun-Times file photo

The news of the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was barely hours old on Friday before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he would do his damnedest to confirm her replacement to the Supreme Court — whomever President Donald Trump might choose — before the November election.

To which anybody with an ounce of intellectual integrity can only say: Don’t you dare.

Our nation, as we write this late Friday night, is 45 days from the Nov. 3 election. The American people are six weeks and three days from choosing their next president and a new Senate.

An act of betrayal

To shove a Trump nominee to the high court through the Senate now, in the last weeks of the first term of a devastatingly divisive, self-serving and unpopular president, would be the ultimate act of betrayal by a Republican Party that long ago sold its soul in the service of political expediency.

Should the GOP dare to go through with this, it deserves to exist no longer. Certainly not as a national party. Every Republican running for the Senate or House on Nov. 3 should be voted down. Even the most reasonable Republican candidate should get the boot — just for hanging with a bad crowd.

The Republican Party finally and irretrievably will deserve to be swept away into history.

Democrats would be outraged. So would independents. And so would those precious “suburban moms,” to use Trump’s outdated label, that he and his party so dearly need to win over. You can bet they were insulted by Trump’s baldly racist appeal — dangerous Black people want to move in and wreck their towns. Making a travesty of the Supreme Court appointment process could be the final straw.

Droves of card-carrying Republicans would be appalled, as well. Count on it. You know: all those good people who were raised right to despise hypocrisy.

If it was defensible for the Republican Senate in 2016 to refuse for almost six months to take up President Barack Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland — because there was an election coming up — then it would be indefensible to take up any Trump nomination before the November election.

Come together to mourn

What, instead, should Americans be doing now? Taking a breath. And coming together to mourn the death of a truly great American, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

We should be putting aside our differences.

That’s exactly what Justice Ginsburg herself did in 2016 when her “best buddy” on the court, Justice Antonin Scalia, died.

In Ginsburg and Scalia, you could not have found two Supreme Court justices more unalike in their political views. She, the staunch liberal. He, the staunch conservative. They battled it out on the court for more than 22 years.

But they argued in a spirit of fairness. They were friends to the end. They vacationed together.

We miss that spirit of comity in America. It was never as real as we might have once thought. We can see that now. There was just no talk radio, no cable TV polemicist, no internet troll and no hate-spewing basement blogger to twist our minds and egg us on. It was harder back then to turn over rocks.

We will miss, that is to say, Justice Ginsburg, a trailblazing feminist icon who fought for justice her whole life. She worked to draw the circle wider. She worked to make America fairer.

An American story

RBG was the American story: The daughter and granddaughter of Russian Jewish immigrants who grew up in Brooklyn, and a student who attended an ordinary public high school with a president’s name on it — James Madison. She worked her way through Cornell University and then law school at Harvard and Columbia.

To follow Ginsburg’s stellar career was to understand that this was all she wanted for any of us, of any color or circumstances. To have the same chances she had — without having to break down so many barriers.

RBG was the American we should aspire to be.

Let’s mourn her death — and do nothing more.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.