On Sept. 18, 2020, I stood in an aisle of Target, holding two cans of Enlightenmint Yerba Mate and cried. Not because they were out of Bluephoria, but because I just learned of the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was a legend amongst feminists, and an advocate for reproductive rights and the fight for gender and sexual equality.
As a young woman, I mourned for the loss of a woman who spent her entire career advocating for issues that directly affected me until her last breath.
The sorrow was short lived, as I was overcome with the urge to scream in the middle of Target after learning that President Donald J. Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already announced their plans to replace her seat on the Supreme Court.
According to RBG’s granddaughter, Clara Spera, her final wish was for her Supreme Court seat to not be filled until after the election. After the passing of Justice Antoni Scalia nine months before the 2016 election, Mitch McConnell asserted that a seat should not be filled during an election year.
However, this new opening in the Supreme Court, less than two months before the 2020 election, has caused McConnell to have a change in heart. He is now openly advocating for Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation and hearings began Oct. 12, less than a month before the election. After Barrett’s confirmation hearing, the Senate will vote to confirm the nominee.
Given that the Senate majority currently belongs to the Republican party, it’s extremely likely that Barrett will be confirmed.
This timeline is even more troubling given the nature of this election. Many voters are electing to vote by mail and have already voted. McConell had previously opposed Supreme Court confirmations during an election cycle.
We are in the middle of an election, and this COVID-19-ridden process is being rushed as a last-ditch effort by the Trump administration to leave his skid mark on his time in office.
The only logical thing to do in that moment was go on a Twitter rant, buy ice cream and Google available apartments in Canada. Then I cried a bit more. Finally, I began researching Trump’s pick for RBG’s replacement: Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
The 48-year-old professor at Notre Dame Law School was nominated to fill RBG’s seat on Sept. 26.
My contempt for this pick differs from my beer-flavored contempt for Trump’s nomination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Barrett is a graduate of Rhodes University, where she was a magna cum laude scholar. Following her undergraduate education, she pursued higher education in the form of a Juris Doctor summa cum laude from Notre Dame, where she graduated at the top of her class and would later serve as a professor of law.
As much as I disapprove of the ACB nomination and fear my rights, as a woman, I think the attacks on her intellect are unjust. Her academic accolades prove that she is intellectually superior to any of Trump’s alternate picks, and she has the appropriate temperament and experience to occupy a seat on the Supreme Court.
On top of that, she loves Kate Chopin, Pinterest and chocolate. On paper, she seems qualified. However, her ideals and judicial philosophy lead me to yearn for puddles of quicksand.
Barrett was a clerk for the late Justice Antoni Scalia and has consistently cited him as a mentor and inspiration. Scalia was adamant about his judicial philosophies, specifically his belief in the idea of textualism. Textualists believe that relying on the original text of the Constitution is the most honest and accurate interpretation of the law, however, it is extremely problematic in practice.
The framers did not account for women, minorities or the technological and social changes that would occur in the hundreds of years since the Constitution was written.
Barrett’s presence on the Supreme Court will shift the Court’s dynamics dramatically to the right. If she fills RBG’s seat, this will put the Court at a total of six conservative justices and three liberal justices.
With her background as a textualist, devout Catholic and an advocate opponent of abortion and the Affordable Care Act, Barrett’s appointment leaves little to the imagination.
If she is confirmed, Barrett will be the youngest person on the Court, and because Supreme Court seats are lifetime appointments, her rulings will change the course of our democracy for decades to come.
Academia and qualifications aside, Judge Barrett is the wrong choice to fill RBG’s seat and a threat to our fundamental rights and democracy. Barrett’s opposition to abortion, the Affordable Care Act and LGBTQ rights solidifies my belief that she is not fit to serve on the Supreme Court.
Unlike the ulcer I am likely to form at the ripe age of 26, I can’t blame the politicization of the Supreme Court on Trump. The original intent of the framers of the constitution was to create an apolitical body of government that would protect the rectitude of the Constitution.
They grossly underestimated America’s ability to politicize a piece of cloth that goes over your mouth and nose, let alone an entire branch of government. I also think that relying on the intent of the framers of the constitution is a dead end, as they quite literally owned slaves and had no intention of giving rights to people of color.
The fact that our fundamental rights to healthcare and abortion relied on RBG, an 87-year-old, is a testament to the system being broken. It’s blatantly obvious that I have major critiques of the system and crave democratic reform, but the only way we can honor RBG’s wishes and maintain democracy is to vote.
The best way to send a big middle finger to the establishment is to vote and make our needs heard. Standing by and letting this confirmation proceed is absolutely antithetical to Ginsburg’s beliefs, and we owe her this fight.
As cliche as it sounds, this is not what she would have wanted. Ginsburg built her career on dissent and advocacy. She became known for her stellar academic record, founding the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project, her work as the first Jewish woman ever appointed to a Supreme Court seat and constant protection of Roe v. Wade.
The reality that a president who was unwanted by the majority of 2016 voters has the opportunity to fill two crucial seats on the Supreme Court is nauseating.
Now is not the time to stand on a precipice of third-party nominees and complacency. The electoral college is a broken system, but we are in a fight for our democracy and we have to play the game and elect officials who will advocate for the will of the people—not narcissistic, convoluted ideas of patriotism.