76 votes

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, champion of gender equality, dies at eighty-seven

49 comments

  1. [9]
    tomf
    (edited )
    Link
    edit: some more info -- a list of GOP senators who promised not to confirm SC noms during an election year (with sources, MotherJones)

    “The American people should 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” - Mitch McConnell, 2016

    edit: some more info -- a list of GOP senators who promised not to confirm SC noms during an election year (with sources, MotherJones)

    34 votes
    1. [5]
      spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      it's a bit flippant, but: I have zero hope in Mitch McConnell having anything resembling "principles".
      33 votes
      1. mono
        Link Parent
        He's already released a statement.

        He's already released a statement.

        President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.

        15 votes
      2. [3]
        gpl
        Link Parent
        Mitch can't stand to lose four GOP Senators, no matter what he wants to do. Mitch McConnell might as well be unaccountable, but there are more than 4 GOP senators who are fighting for their...

        Mitch can't stand to lose four GOP Senators, no matter what he wants to do. Mitch McConnell might as well be unaccountable, but there are more than 4 GOP senators who are fighting for their political lives. It may not be likely, but it is not impossible.

        6 votes
        1. [2]
          RNG
          Link Parent
          I can't imagine a scenario where Republican voters are demanding that their Senator refuse to confirm a rightist judge, much less 4 such cases. It would be political suicide for a Republican...

          I can't imagine a scenario where Republican voters are demanding that their Senator refuse to confirm a rightist judge, much less 4 such cases.

          It would be political suicide for a Republican Senator to break ranks and sabotage the nomination.

          13 votes
          1. gpl
            Link Parent
            I can definitely imagine suburban women and college educated voters (the demographic that swung hard towards Democrats in 2018 and that Republicans want to get back) being pissed at McConnell...

            I can definitely imagine suburban women and college educated voters (the demographic that swung hard towards Democrats in 2018 and that Republicans want to get back) being pissed at McConnell moving to replace RBG.

            Trump is already getting out the GOP base, its the one thing he's good at. If GOP Senators are still down in polls, it means they have to win over moderates and centrists, and so far I am not sure such people will be approve of McConnell being so duplicitous here.

            8 votes
    2. [2]
      teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      Good thing we can hold Mitch accountable, right?

      Good thing we can hold Mitch accountable, right?

      9 votes
      1. tomf
        Link Parent
        It'll be interesting to see everybody take the opposite position for this one. What a mess.

        It'll be interesting to see everybody take the opposite position for this one.

        What a mess.

        4 votes
    3. JXM
      Link Parent
      That was what I thought about as soon as I read the news. I'm 100% sure that he will abide by the same logic this time. He certainly won't try and shove something through while he has literally...

      That was what I thought about as soon as I read the news. I'm 100% sure that he will abide by the same logic this time. He certainly won't try and shove something through while he has literally hundreds of bills passed by the House that he refuses to bring to the Senate floor for a vote.

      9 votes
  2. kfwyre
    Link
    What a devastating loss. There's a lot to be said about what happens from here, but I think it's worth reflecting on Ginsburg's character and achievements as well at this time. She was an...
    • Exemplary

    What a devastating loss.

    There's a lot to be said about what happens from here, but I think it's worth reflecting on Ginsburg's character and achievements as well at this time. She was an incredibly diligent worker and fierce advocate for gender equality and women's rights. In the words of Hamilton: she was "non-stop". Here's just a brief snippet of her Wikipedia page that captures one small section of her life and what she was able to accomplish:

    In 1972, Ginsburg co-founded the Women's Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and in 1973, she became the Project's general counsel. The Women's Rights Project and related ACLU projects participated in more than three hundred gender discrimination cases by 1974. As the director of the ACLU's Women's Rights Project, she argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court between 1973 and 1976, winning five. Rather than asking the court to end all gender discrimination at once, Ginsburg charted a strategic course, taking aim at specific discriminatory statutes and building on each successive victory. She chose plaintiffs carefully, at times picking male plaintiffs to demonstrate that gender discrimination was harmful to both men and women. The laws Ginsburg targeted included those that on the surface appeared beneficial to women, but in fact reinforced the notion that women needed to be dependent on men. Her strategic advocacy extended to word choice, favoring the use of "gender" instead of "sex", after her secretary suggested the word "sex" would serve as a distraction to judges. She attained a reputation as a skilled oral advocate, and her work led directly to the end of gender discrimination in many areas of the law.

    One more:

    In 1999, Ginsburg was diagnosed with colon cancer; she underwent surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. During the process, she did not miss a day on the bench.

    She has been tirelessly working for decades, and it was only very late in her life that she started to get the widespread recognition and pop cultural status the "Notorious R.B.G." moniker imparts on her. Before that she was largely unknown. If you asked the average American who she was in the 00s or the 90s, I think they would have been hard pressed to tell you, despite her being only the second woman on the Supreme Court in history.

    She was an incredible talent with an absolutely unmatched work ethic. Her legacy is something that she can be proud of, and that we, as a country, can be thankful for. She will be missed. We are so very lucky to have had her.

    16 votes
  3. [10]
    Adys
    Link
    I have not said this this year, but I will say it today: Fuck 2020. I believe this is possibly the most impactful thing, worldwide, to happen this year. And yes, I am well aware of what is...

    I have not said this this year, but I will say it today:

    Fuck 2020.

    I believe this is possibly the most impactful thing, worldwide, to happen this year. And yes, I am well aware of what is competing with that particular event.

    22 votes
    1. [9]
      emdash
      Link Parent
      Just FYI, as an "outside observer", while her passing is obviously a great sadness, this sort of American pseudo-exceptionalism is becoming increasingly-misguided—no sane country has been looking...

      I believe this is possibly the most impactful thing, worldwide, to happen this year. And yes, I am well aware of what is competing with that particular event.

      Just FYI, as an "outside observer", while her passing is obviously a great sadness, this sort of American pseudo-exceptionalism is becoming increasingly-misguided—no sane country has been looking to the United States for "leadership" for a long time, as the overall politics of the U.S. has become increasingly detached from reality. The U.S. has become that weird regressive super-power that supports many of its principles in name only. I can't begin to describe just how damaging the Trump presidency and the overall hyper-partisan politics of the States has wounded its worldwide reputation—it's going to take decades of goodwill and meaningful change to repair that tear in the fabric.

      Stated in plain English: "We"—as in, the majority of the international community—do not aspire, nor look up to the United States anymore.

      I don't want to start a pissing contest, and I hope no one takes my comment here as such, but COVID-19 has honestly devastated the global economy, and while no country is perfect and we all have our own problems, this really isn't on the same scale. My condolences to her family and the American people—I hope you can use this moment to honour her desires and elect someone just as fitting to your highest court.

      32 votes
      1. [5]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        A Trump nominee has no chance of approving any climate change focused treaty. Any odds of addressing it in the next 40 years are null if it’s not undone. It is that impactful.

        A Trump nominee has no chance of approving any climate change focused treaty. Any odds of addressing it in the next 40 years are null if it’s not undone. It is that impactful.

        19 votes
        1. [3]
          scissortail
          Link Parent
          Pardon my potential ignorance here, but I don't think the Supreme Court has to approve treaties, no?

          Pardon my potential ignorance here, but I don't think the Supreme Court has to approve treaties, no?

          6 votes
          1. Amarok
            Link Parent
            They don't have to approve them - in fact they have the ability to refuse or take whatever cases they like. They do indeed have the power to rule on treaties, though, so a treaty with...

            They don't have to approve them - in fact they have the ability to refuse or take whatever cases they like. They do indeed have the power to rule on treaties, though, so a treaty with unconstitutional elements in their view could be struck down. See Britannica's entry.

            As the country’s court of last resort, the Supreme Court is an appellate body, vested with the authority to act in cases arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States; in controversies to which the United States is a party; in disputes between states or between citizens of different states; and in cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction. In suits affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls and in cases in which states are a party, the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction—i.e., it serves as a trial court. Relatively few cases reach the court through its original jurisdiction, however; instead, the vast majority of the court’s business and nearly all of its most influential decisions derive from its appellate jurisdiction.

            12 votes
          2. NaraVara
            Link Parent
            Not directly. But they can strike down any law we pass to attempt to comply with those treaty agreements. And if someone brings a case forward demonstrating “harm” they can strike a treaty itself...

            Not directly. But they can strike down any law we pass to attempt to comply with those treaty agreements. And if someone brings a case forward demonstrating “harm” they can strike a treaty itself down as unconstitutional.

            4 votes
        2. gpl
          Link Parent
          I don't think the SC would have a huge roll in the approval of treaties. They could however effectively scuttle efforts to implement those treaties.

          I don't think the SC would have a huge roll in the approval of treaties. They could however effectively scuttle efforts to implement those treaties.

          6 votes
      2. Adys
        Link Parent
        You'll find very similar comments about american exceptionalism from me (one of them from today on hn in fact). I am not american, but I am acutely aware of its outsized influence on the rest of...

        You'll find very similar comments about american exceptionalism from me (one of them from today on hn in fact). I am not american, but I am acutely aware of its outsized influence on the rest of the world.

        I hope I'm wrong about this but I believe what I'm saying here in RBG's death and its timing being the most impactful thing to happen this year. It may just be a catalyst for things that will have an impact for decades to come, which honestly I don't believe COVID will hold a candle to. And due to the USA being the USA, such things will have a ridiculously large influence on other countries as well.

        I'll elaborate when I'm less tired, and less pissed off.

        14 votes
      3. gpl
        Link Parent
        I don't necessarily agree with @Adys, but the fact remains that the US is the global superpower for the time being, and events that have the potentially to radically alter its politics, or else...

        I don't necessarily agree with @Adys, but the fact remains that the US is the global superpower for the time being, and events that have the potentially to radically alter its politics, or else shift its politics going forward, do have an effect on the global community. It's not about whether or not we're looked up to, it's about whether or not we're responded to. And for the time being we are.

        12 votes
      4. JackA
        Link Parent
        When people refer to America as "the leader of the free world" etc we have no misguided view that the world respects us, trusts us, or welcomes our role as a pseudo "leader". We simply have the...

        When people refer to America as "the leader of the free world" etc we have no misguided view that the world respects us, trusts us, or welcomes our role as a pseudo "leader". We simply have the bullying power that what we do matters substantially to everyone else.

        I agree that Covid is bigger than this though.

        12 votes
  4. [12]
    moonbathers
    (edited )
    Link
    I'm not gonna say we're instantly fucked because of this but god damn is there no justice in this world but what we make. People are going to complain about Republicans' hypocrisy and it's not...

    I'm not gonna say we're instantly fucked because of this but god damn is there no justice in this world but what we make. People are going to complain about Republicans' hypocrisy and it's not going to make a single bit of difference. A new ~50-year-old justice will be seated by December and the court will be lost for at least a decade I imagine, and probably longer. Thomas is 72, Alito is 70, and Roberts is 65. The court will be 6-3 conservative and we'll have to somehow replace two of them with liberals/progressives/whatever you'd like to call them and on top of that Breyer is 82.

    Edit to add: I don't think they necessarily need to hurry on replacing her, they've got until January at the very least and they're up 5-3. But if for some reason they don't go full dictatorship they'll definitely have someone in that seat before they lose the Senate or Trump is out.

    18 votes
    1. [11]
      spctrvl
      Link Parent
      Honestly, there's nothing else for it now, we're just going to have to win back the senate and the presidency, and then enact some sort of court packing plan. Short of much more major changes in...

      Honestly, there's nothing else for it now, we're just going to have to win back the senate and the presidency, and then enact some sort of court packing plan. Short of much more major changes in government, I can't see another way out of the three ton millstone around the country's throat that are trump's SCOTUS appointees knocking around on the court for the next four decades.

      13 votes
      1. [10]
        JackA
        Link Parent
        I hate the precedent that sets with every fiber of my being, but god damnit they already killed any form of precedent.

        I hate the precedent that sets with every fiber of my being, but god damnit they already killed any form of precedent.

        9 votes
        1. [9]
          Amarok
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Reshuffling the court is nothing new, look into Andrew Jackson's presidency. There's a ton of precedent for it already. Granted, we haven't done it in a while, but then we haven't done a lot of...

          Reshuffling the court is nothing new, look into Andrew Jackson's presidency. There's a ton of precedent for it already. Granted, we haven't done it in a while, but then we haven't done a lot of things we need to do regarding government reforms in a while, either.

          If we get a functional congress, they can rework the supreme court. At the least term limits for them are on the table, and it can easily expand the court as it has in the past, or impeach and remove its members. Impeachment on supreme court justices is an interesting topic, it's been tried but never successfully. Just remember that the court is congress' bitch in every way that congress' laws are the courts. Checks and balances.

          These levers of government are so rusty from disuse that it's easy to forget they are there, but they do exist.

          If Trump and the Republicans push hard for a new appointee before the election - rushing it in a mere 44 days - it may not turn out as bad as people think. It may even cost them their seats and the election. Ruth was a legend and an icon. Disrespecting her final wishes to wait a mere two months in this political climate and the blatant hypocrisy of rushing a new justice through after the debacle thrown at Obama is dangerous business.

          But that also poses an interesting question - what could be a more appropriate result of this election than both Democrats and Republicans claiming victory? A hung 4/4 supreme court ruling on the election results. At this point 2020 is straight up pranking us.

          18 votes
          1. arghdos
            Link Parent
            Fascinating conflict of interest if we go full 2000, and Trump ends up appointing the justice who tips it in his favor.

            A hung 4/4 supreme court ruling on the election results. At this point 2020 is straight up pranking us.

            Fascinating conflict of interest if we go full 2000, and Trump ends up appointing the justice who tips it in his favor.

            9 votes
          2. [7]
            Omnicrola
            Link Parent
            I think this is the capstone nightmare scenario, in a year of nightmare scenarios. It's like the universe has a writers room, and we're in the script where they just utterly fuck up the characters...

            But that also poses an interesting question - what could be a more appropriate result of this election than both Democrats and Republicans claiming victory? A hung 4/4 supreme court ruling on the election results. At this point 2020 is straight up pranking us.

            I think this is the capstone nightmare scenario, in a year of nightmare scenarios. It's like the universe has a writers room, and we're in the script where they just utterly fuck up the characters as a writing exercise, except it accidentally got put in the "reality" bin instead of the trash bin.

            5 votes
            1. [6]
              Amarok
              Link Parent
              ♪ and it feels like nineteen thirty-six... in catalonia... ♪ That little lyric lead me to read up on what happened during the Spanish civil war. The parallels with this moment right here, right...

              and it feels like nineteen thirty-six... in catalonia...

              That little lyric lead me to read up on what happened during the Spanish civil war. The parallels with this moment right here, right now are pretty stark. Similar sentiments, different circumstances, but it does show you where this can go. The best part of that article is the surprise Orwell - the man was there, and he wrote an account himself.

              7 votes
              1. [5]
                ohyran
                Link Parent
                This sounds like a cruel question but, having talked to some friends from the US who also knew nothing of the civil war in Spain it seems like this isn't mentioned at all in US history classes? A...

                This sounds like a cruel question but, having talked to some friends from the US who also knew nothing of the civil war in Spain it seems like this isn't mentioned at all in US history classes?

                A Las Barricadas because its a good tune.

                3 votes
                1. [4]
                  Amarok
                  Link Parent
                  I don't remember it from primary school, if it was covered it was a brief footnote at best.

                  I don't remember it from primary school, if it was covered it was a brief footnote at best.

                  2 votes
                  1. ohyran
                    Link Parent
                    In fairness growing up in the 80's here ment that US history was basically "Columbus enslaves the Americas", "Slavery", "Trail of tears" and "Vietnam" - so my knowledge of US history is kinda lacking.

                    In fairness growing up in the 80's here ment that US history was basically "Columbus enslaves the Americas", "Slavery", "Trail of tears" and "Vietnam" - so my knowledge of US history is kinda lacking.

                    2 votes
                  2. [2]
                    cfabbro
                    (edited )
                    Link Parent
                    At least here in Ontario, Canada I remember learning of the Spanish civil war in High School but it was only very, very briefly mentioned as a prelude to the much more in-depth coverage of the...

                    At least here in Ontario, Canada I remember learning of the Spanish civil war in High School but it was only very, very briefly mentioned as a prelude to the much more in-depth coverage of the Axis v Allies in WW2.

                    I learned far far more about it from playing Spain in HOI4 than anything I learned in school.

                    CC: @ohyran

                    2 votes
                    1. ohyran
                      Link Parent
                      No judgement - I learned about the different colonial powers by playing Sid Meiers Colonization - and when me and my hsuband visited New York a while back we knew where everything sorta was due to...

                      I learned far far more about it from playing Spain in HOI4 than anything I learned in school.

                      No judgement - I learned about the different colonial powers by playing Sid Meiers Colonization - and when me and my hsuband visited New York a while back we knew where everything sorta was due to GTA 4 :)

                      2 votes
  5. [11]
    no_exit
    Link
    condolences to her family, I wish she had retired during Obama's tenure. the Dems better grow some spine right quick.

    condolences to her family, I wish she had retired during Obama's tenure. the Dems better grow some spine right quick.

    16 votes
    1. [5]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Unless she was somehow magically prescient and so knew to retire in Obama's first term, the Senate Republicans likely would have just ignored the nomination for her replacement until it expired...

      Unless she was somehow magically prescient and so knew to retire in Obama's first term, the Senate Republicans likely would have just ignored the nomination for her replacement until it expired like they did with Scalia's.

      9 votes
      1. [4]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        She had pancreatic cancer at the time. Plenty of people were telling her to retire. She didn’t want to out of some sense of decorum and maintaining the court as non-partisan. It was a stupid...

        She had pancreatic cancer at the time. Plenty of people were telling her to retire. She didn’t want to out of some sense of decorum and maintaining the court as non-partisan.

        It was a stupid decision which I’m sure she came to regret.

        14 votes
        1. [3]
          cfabbro
          Link Parent
          I'm sure she did regret it, but again, unless she was somehow magically prescient there is no way she could have predicted how low the Republicans would sink over the next few years, so can't...

          I'm sure she did regret it, but again, unless she was somehow magically prescient there is no way she could have predicted how low the Republicans would sink over the next few years, so can't really be blamed here, IMO.

          6 votes
          1. [2]
            NaraVara
            Link Parent
            I’d say it was pretty clear at the time and she was naive to not see it. By 2012 it was abundantly clear that the GOP had gone well down the road into crazy town.

            I’d say it was pretty clear at the time and she was naive to not see it. By 2012 it was abundantly clear that the GOP had gone well down the road into crazy town.

            2 votes
            1. cfabbro
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              That may be the case, but I assume she (like most of us) was probably still riding high on the optimism from Obama having won. Hindsight is 20/20.

              That may be the case, but I assume she (like most of us) was probably still riding high on the optimism from Obama having won. Hindsight is 20/20.

              3 votes
    2. [5]
      pallas
      Link Parent
      What does this mean? What would the opposition do, in a situation where there is no need at all for their support, on a vote important enough to be worth spending political capital and making...

      the Dems better grow some spine right quick.

      What does this mean? What would the opposition do, in a situation where there is no need at all for their support, on a vote important enough to be worth spending political capital and making political sacrifices?

      3 votes
      1. spctrvl
        Link Parent
        There's not much the democrats can do right now, but we need to be prepared to pack the court if we take back the senate in 2020, and that's going to take some doing to convince the moderates in...

        There's not much the democrats can do right now, but we need to be prepared to pack the court if we take back the senate in 2020, and that's going to take some doing to convince the moderates in the party.

        4 votes
      2. [3]
        cfabbro
        Link Parent
        If they take the House, Senate, and Presidency this election, expanding the court is a possibility. Unfortunately Biden has already ruled that out, IIRC.

        If they take the House, Senate, and Presidency this election, expanding the court is a possibility. Unfortunately Biden has already ruled that out, IIRC.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          NaraVara
          Link Parent
          If Biden is pressured on any specific thing he will fold. He’s always just been a weathervane for the midpoint of the party.

          If Biden is pressured on any specific thing he will fold. He’s always just been a weathervane for the midpoint of the party.

          7 votes
          1. cfabbro
            Link Parent
            I certainly hope so, since SCOTUS and the decisions they will likely make in the next few decades are way way way too important (not just for the US) to allow Republican shills to have the...

            I certainly hope so, since SCOTUS and the decisions they will likely make in the next few decades are way way way too important (not just for the US) to allow Republican shills to have the deciding vote on.

            3 votes
  6. [4]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Mitch McConnell is already saying "President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate."
    15 votes
    1. [3]
      Icarus
      Link Parent
      I wonder if he will try to do it quickly, enraging the left and driving voter turnout (sealing the fate of the Senate/Presidency). Or by taking it slowly while making the left seem crazy enough to...

      I wonder if he will try to do it quickly, enraging the left and driving voter turnout (sealing the fate of the Senate/Presidency).

      Or by taking it slowly while making the left seem crazy enough to keep them from getting it done, only to use it as a tool to drive right-wing voter turnout. That type of gamble could be enough to allow them to keep the Senate, and maybe have better odds for the Presidency. This is assuming they don't have a plan to try to steal the election.

      4 votes
      1. SunSpotter
        Link Parent
        You forgot a classic. Wait, and distract the public with something big, anything really. At the height of the story when everyone is distracted, you make your move. They couldn't both nominate and...

        You forgot a classic. Wait, and distract the public with something big, anything really. At the height of the story when everyone is distracted, you make your move. They couldn't both nominate and confirm a judge in the amount of time this tactic would allot, but they could probably pull off one or the other.

        7 votes
      2. Amarok
        Link Parent
        If they can't pass a stimulus for the average joe, yet can instantly hammer home a justice pick, that's definitely not going to do them any favors with the majority of the country that isn't fond...

        If they can't pass a stimulus for the average joe, yet can instantly hammer home a justice pick, that's definitely not going to do them any favors with the majority of the country that isn't fond of the red or blue teams.

        6 votes
  7. psi
    Link

    Just days before her death, as her strength waned, 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."

    14 votes
  8. Kuromantis
    (edited )
    Link
    Related article: Trump’s shortlist of potential Supreme Court nominees, explained: Trump wants to remind loyalists that, if he wins in November, they’ll get more judges who will enact Republican...

    Related article:

    Trump’s shortlist of potential Supreme Court nominees, explained: Trump wants to remind loyalists that, if he wins in November, they’ll get more judges who will enact Republican policy.

    The next Trump Supreme Court pick may well come from a list of 20 names he revealed last week, plus a longer list he had already released.

    The Trump White House and his allies in the Senate have spent years preparing for the next Supreme Court vacancy.

    Because so many Trump appointees make the list, many of these judges have not served long enough to develop substantial records on the bench. But several of the names on Trump’s new list will raise deep concerns among Democrats.

    Judge James Ho, for example, has spent his not even three years on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit writing opinions that read like something published by Breitbart. His very first judicial opinion was a sweeping attack on campaign finance laws — and it included an entirely gratuitous swipe at the Affordable Care Act. Ho argued that “if you don’t like big money in politics, then you should oppose big government in our lives,” and he cited the Supreme Court’s decision largely upholding Obamacare to drive home his point.

    Ho has also railed against the “moral tragedy of abortion” in an opinion where he accused a fellow federal judge of retaliating “against people of faith for not only believing in the sanctity of life—but also for wanting to do something about it.”

    Ho’s Fifth Circuit colleague Kyle Duncan, meanwhile, spent much of his pre-judicial career litigating against LGBTQ rights and the right to vote. As a judge, he’s best known for an opinion where he spent more than 10 pages explaining why he insists on referring to a transgender woman using masculine pronouns.

    10 votes