A remembrance of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the importance of her work, and a call to electoral action written by Cell Vision co-founder Mattie Safer.
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”-Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Rest in peace to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday at the age of 87. Ginsburg was the second woman to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court, nominated in 1993 and serving for 27 years. She was a staunch defender of civil rights, and as the court became more conservative, Ginsburg became known as the leader of the court’s “liberal wing,” often reading her dissents from the bench to signal her intense disagreement with the majority opinion.
In 1972, as a lawyer, Ginsburg founded the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, arguing six cases before the Supreme Court. Her work was significant in ending gender discrimination in many areas of the law. Under the highly methodical legal strategy created by Ginsburg, the project took on specific discriminatory statutes one by one, building each new case on its precedent-setting prior win, rather than trying to force the court to take down gender discrimination in one blow. Her work was monumental in extending the protections of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to women.
If McConnell and the Republican majority move forward with confirmation hearings this fall—and based on a statement issued in the hours after Bader-Ginsburg’s death, those plans are already underway—we must LOUDLY and STRONGLY make our voices heard in opposition.
Ginsburg’s dying wish was that her seat on the Supreme Court would not be filled until the next president took office. In 2016, President Barack Obama’s final year in office, Republican senators refused to hold hearings on his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, arguing the selection of a new jurist should be left to the incoming president. Several Republican senators (including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) went on record declaring they would not try to push through a Supreme Court nomination in an election year. But politicians since time immemorial have demonstrated a willingness to break their promises when it’s politically expedient. If McConnell and the Republican majority move forward with confirmation hearings this fall—and based on a statement issued in the hours after Bader-Ginsburg’s death, those plans are already underway—we must LOUDLY and STRONGLY make our voices heard in opposition.
Beyond that immediate threat, Ginsburg’s death highlights one of the most important issues that will be decided in this year’s elections: the next president will have the power to nominate her replacement, as well as other seats on the court that open up during their term, not to mention hundreds of lower court judges. The next Senate will control the hearing process for that nominee and vote to approve or reject that nomination. Even before Ginsburg’s death, the court leaned conservative, with 5 out of 9 judges firmly in the “conservative wing.” Should Trump win reelection and nominate the next justice, the court–with a 6-3 conservative majority*–will likely wreak havoc on all manner of laws protecting against discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation and immigration status for decades to come.
The Supreme Court is a lifelong appointment, and whoever is seated is likely to shape the rule of law for literal generations. And this is just one of many issues where the difference between Biden and Trump could not be clearer.
There are some folks in our community who feel that voting in this election cycle isn’t important, that Trump and Biden are two sides of the same coin—old White men who are blind or hostile to the kinds of systemic changes we need to create a more just and equal society. We at Cell Vision strongly believe this could not be further from the truth. Biden and Harris have pledged to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. In contrast, Trump has offered up conservative monsters like Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton as potential nominees (not to mention Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who has notably refused to arrest and charge the cops who killed Breonna Taylor). The Supreme Court is a lifelong appointment, and whoever is seated is likely to shape the rule of law for literal generations. And this is just one of many issues where the difference between Biden and Trump could not be clearer.
To not vote for Biden because we need a bigger “revolution” reveals a privilege that is inappropriate for the time and is, frankly, dangerous to communities of color, women, LGBTQIA+, immigrants, and other folks whose rights a second Trump administration would threaten.
We urge all of our readers to register to vote, and vote for Biden/Harris, as well as other Democratic candidates in their local and national elections. Mainstream Democratic stances are far from ideal, but electing Democrats is the best tool we have in this election cycle to get Trump and the Republicans out of power, ensure a Supreme Court nominee who will stand up for equality, and begin to reverse some of the damage the current administration has done to our country and the world. To not vote for Biden because we need a bigger “revolution” reveals a privilege that is inappropriate for the time and is, frankly, dangerous to communities of color, women, LGBTQIA+, immigrants, and other folks whose rights a second Trump administration would threaten.
"Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time." -Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Our deepest sympathies to RBG’s family and the millions of people who loved and idolized her. Ginsburg’s record as a justice was not perfect, but by and large, she stood on the right side of history on countless issues. May we act in her memory and do what is necessary to protect the justice and equality for all that she dedicated her life to attaining.
Cell Vision strongly encourages you to vote in the upcoming elections. You can register to vote, check that an existing registration is up to date, and more at the link below.
*Not to overdo it on the doom and gloom, but Justice Stephen Breyer, another member of the "liberal wing" of the Supreme Court is 82 years old, and may not be able to remain in his seat another 4 years should Trump be reelected—which would likely lead to a 7-2 conservative majority in the Supreme Court. Please vote.