The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday night was a heartbreaking gut-punch to the liberal world. Ginsburg had become an icon of female empowerment and judicial brilliance, and her prior bouts with–and seeming triumph over–cancer gave her an air of invincibility. Her tenacity was a rare bright spot in the otherwise fetid morass of Trump’s Washington, especially in the aftermath of Supreme Court seat stolen from President Obama by Mitch McConnell.
Justice Ginsburg’s death cast a pall over the nation, with reports on social media of widespread depression and feelings of hopelessness among anyone with even a single progressive cell in their body. Her death was, at the very least, a profound setback for anyone who cares about the issues likely to be decided by the courts, like the ability of the government to address climate change, the ability of the federal government to enforce voting rights, the ability to meaningfully regulate firearms, the constitutionality of broad social programs like the ACA, and a woman’s right to control her own body.
Pundits spent the weekend speculating on what is to come, especially in light of McConnell’s vow to quickly give the President a vote on a conservative nominee to replace Ginsburg despite having refused President Obama the same courtesy and worse. But the path to success for McConnell will not be without tremendous political risk. Consider this. Right now, McConnell already has a 5-3 conservative court. If he goes ahead and rams through another justice to make it 6-3, he will unleash a tremendous rage among Democrats. If Biden wins the presidency and Democrats take back the Senate, they could–and should–go ahead and add new justices to the Supreme Court, and they should be threatening this. It’s within the rules. But if McConnell puts a nominee up for a vote and makes sure the nominee loses, he will have created political cover for himself and all the Republicans who joined him while at the same time making it much harder for Biden and the Democrats, whose eventual nominee will only restore the court back to a 5-4 conservative majority, to do something as radical as expanding the court. In other words, assuming McConnell can even get enough votes, ramming through a nominee could backfire on him in a big way. And right now, it’s not clear he can get the votes. If four Republicans defect, the nominee will fail. Thus far Collins and Murkowski seem to be against a new nominee. Mitt Romney has also indicated that he might not go along with McConnell. Chuck Grassley is on the record long ago saying he wouldn’t back such a thing, but he has yet to comment on the current situation. And vulnerable Republican Senators in purple states, like Cory Gardner of Colorado, might have second thoughts about backing McConnell. Which is to say, the road ahead is far from clear.
Former Republican and Never Trumper Steve Schmidt of Project Lincoln wrote a passionate call to action on Twitter over the weekend:
Do Not Be Afraid. Do Not Tremble. Do Not Waiver. Do not doubt either the goodness of our people or the possibilities for our future. Do not let small men with tyranny and malice in their heart (@realDonaldTrump) or hypocrites with no core (@VP) make you afraid for our future or of your countrymen and women. Do not let the fascists, racists and conspiracy theorists make you afraid of your neighbors or the strangers who could be your friend. We should all be grateful that we have been chosen by this rancid and dangerous hour to stand up and fight. What we do now matters. Our Capitol is occupied by a cabal of small and low men and women who have betrayed all of us, the American experiment, their oaths and basic decency in service of a corrupt and malignant cult of personality that is vandalizing our principles, ideals, future and fundamental goodness. 200,000 of our country men and women are dead. At least 150,000 of them could be alive but for Trump’s lethal lying and the immoral, supine complicity of his collaborators and enablers. Let us resolve to rise up and strike down Trumpism. Let us put it down with righteous anger and fury. Let us resolve to never let this happen again. Let us do our duty as American citizens. Let us be conscious that we are called to safe action when we consider the blood, sacrifice and courage of ordinary people who stood their ground on a field in Lexington and Gettysburg. The men who stormed the beaches of Normandy and dropped from the skies over France to crush fascism are smiling at our cause. The men and women who taught the world the meaning of the words “human dignity” as they Protested segregation, absorbed the beatings and marched across the Edmund Pettus bridge are watching and judging us. We are in the right and for the right. We are fighting for the good. Trumpism is UNAMERICAN. It is illiberal, demagogic, dishonest, cruel, corrupt and disgusting. Let us strike it down. We will. Vote. Have joy in this fight. RBG is with her husband again. She is arguing with Scalia, Washington and Lincoln. Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas are there. Susan B Anthony is there and so is Elise Wiesel. A great champion of freedom has arrived in heaven. Her work is done. Her burden is now our’s. Let us honor her legacy by doing our duty. FIGHT, REGISTER, VOTE. I DISSENT are the most American of words. Thank you Madame Justice. May your memory be a blessing. We all know that it is.
Tens of thousands of Americans over the weekend sprung into action. The liberal fundraising platform ActBlue raised over $6-million in the hour following Justice Ginsburg’s death, and continued to shatter their own records, reaching a weekend total of over $100-million raised for various Democratic causes, especially Senate races. It was also reported that Joe Biden now has close to $500-million in cash to spend, far more that Trump currently has. If you’re thinking about contributing, consider giving to groups that help Senate races, like the DSCC or the Senate Majority PAC. Or you can give to individual candidates in tight but winnable races, such as:
- Gideon ME
- Kelly AZ
- Cunningham NC
- Greenfield IA
- Bullock MT
- Ossoff GA
- Harrison SC
Tomorrow I’ll try to list some other ways we can get involved and take action.
Justice Ginsburg was an extraordinary human being, a remarkable jurist, and a tenacious fighter. We can honor her life and legacy by continuing to fight for the causes and principles she held dear. It’s natural to feel shattered by her passing. But we simply cannot afford despair or inaction. The stakes are too high.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”