American justice icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead. The oldest female Supreme Court judge in the United States, the Supreme Court, died Friday at the age of 87 from cancer. She died with her family.
After Ginsburg’s death, a bitter political battle ensues to occupy a key position in the American legal system. The Supreme Court has a formative role for society and politics in the US. The court hears highly controversial issues such as abortion, gun laws, equality and immigration.
It is not uncommon for the nine judges to have the final say in disputes over laws and orders that set course. The decisions taken are often of national importance and shape the interpretation of laws in lower courts over years, sometimes decades.
Ginsburg held her office at the highly political court to the end and was considered the most prominent representative of the liberal wing. She had been treated briefly in the hospital several times that year.
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If US President Donald Trump is given the opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court judge for the third time in office, he will be able to influence the politically vital court for years to come. The Republican has already shown his determination to try to fill the post of judge in the closing months of his current tenure. “I would. Absolutely. Definitely,” Trump said in a radio interview last month.
Ginsburg is an idol of the liberals
Ginsburg was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1993 by then-Democratic President Bill Clinton – becoming arguably the most famous judge. The then 60-year-old was the second woman ever to appear in court. Even during her college days, she was one of the few women in a male domain.
Ginsburg made a name for herself with her sharp argument. She was also known as a pioneer in women’s and civil rights. Her life and work has been the subject of several films and books. Many liberals celebrate her as an icon. Her face can be found on souvenirs and as graffiti on house facades.
Portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Broadway in New York Photo: Reuters / Andrew Kelly
Ginsburg had to undergo radiation therapy in August 2019 because of a malignant tumor in the pancreas. The year before, she had undergone lung surgery after doctors found two malignant lumps.
After several hospital stays, she announced in July 2020 that she had cancer again and was undergoing chemotherapy. She did not take any consequences for her position at the Supreme Court: “I have often said that I will remain a member of the court as long as I can do the work with full force,” she said when the illness was announced.
Conservatives have a majority in the Supreme Court
Filling the post of a Supreme Court Judge is a major political issue. The nomination allows the president to influence the line of the Supreme Court with its nine judicial posts for years, as the judges are elected for life. The Supreme Court is already conservatively overweight. With Ginsburg’s death, this could potentially consolidate for a long time.
Five judges are currently considered conservative, after Ginsburg’s death, three remain in the liberal bloc. Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh during his tenure. Kavanaugh’s appeal was highly controversial due to allegations of sexual assault in the 1980s.
Republicans want pre-election occupation – Democrats only after
The Republican majority in the US Senate wants to vote on Ginsburg’s successor regardless of the impending presidential election in the Supreme Court. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced this a few hours after her death was announced. Given the importance of the post of the Supreme Court judge in fundamentally shaping the course of American society, this position is likely to spark fierce political controversy.
“The candidate nominated by President Trump will be given a vote in the United States Senate,” McConnell said. In 2016, Republicans under his leadership blocked a Supreme Court candidate nominated by then-Democratic President Barack Obama in the Senate – also with reference to the upcoming presidential election.
Given the procedure at the time, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, now called on Republicans to decide on the replacement under the next president. He was exactly repeating McConnell’s 2016 words. The presidential election is on November 3, with the winner being sworn in on January 20, 2021.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden also called for a successor to the late Ginsburg to the U.S. Supreme Court in President Trump’s current tenure. “The voters must undoubtedly elect the president, and the president must propose the judge to the senate,” Biden said Friday of the order of decisions to be made. That is the position the Senate must take.
Obama is also reminding Republicans of the 2016 election year
Former US President Barack Obama joined demands not to fill the position of the late Ginsburg during the current tenure of his successor Trump. In the 2016 election year, Republicans “invented the principle that the Senate should not fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court until a new president is sworn in,” Obama said Saturday night. A principle of law and fairness is that rules are applied uniformly and do not depend on what is currently advantageous. Republicans in the Senate had blocked a candidate for Obama four years ago, citing an inconvenient moment in the election year.
Obama insisted that court decisions in the coming years would determine “whether our economy is fair and our society is fair, whether women are treated equally, whether our planet survives and our democracy continues.” Therefore, the succession planning process must be flawless.
Obama recognized Ginsburg as “a warrior for gender equality”. She believed that equality before the law should apply to every American.
According to a report, Ginsburg herself wanted her vacant judge’s post at the highest U.S. court to be filled in the next presidential term. “My ardent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is in office,” Ginsburg said a few days before her death, the NPR radio station reported, citing her granddaughter Clara Spera. (dpa)