Joe Barbieri ‘23
Last Friday, the news everyone was dreading to hear became a sad reality: longtime Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at the age of 87 after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.
Since being confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1993, Ginsburg has served as a beacon of hope and inspiration for women’s rights and equality, while simultaneously gaining pop culture status as “The Notorious R.B.G.” Notable cases decided during her time on the Court include United States v. Virginia, which opened the door for women’s education, and Friends of the Earth v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, in which she took a hard stance against environmental pollution. There truly never will be another Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
With the death of Justice Ginsburg, debates between Republicans and Democrats have begun on how to proceed with this new opening, as the former is pushing to fill the seat as soon as possible while the latter wants the decision to come after November’s election.
While both sides make very good arguments, it is important to remember that members of the Senate took an oath to carry out the duties of their office to the best of their ability.
And whether they like it or not, that entails holding a hearing and a vote on a potential Supreme Court nominee.
The simple fact is that Senators are elected to the United States Senate for a term of six years. That means that they are expected to do their job day in and day out until their term ends. They should not get to pick and choose the pieces of legislation that may or may not benefit their specific party. They are sent to the Senate to represent all of their citizens, Republican and Democrat alike.
It truly is a privilege to serve in the United States Senate, a privilege afforded to fifty men and women. However, by not even considering a hearing on a potential nominee, they are showing that they are not taking this job seriously, that they consider the job to be about political parties and not about representing the interests of their constituents.
While it may be easy to blame Democrats for stalling on this nomination, it would be wrong and hypocritical to not mention the fact that Republicans did the very same thing back in 2016 when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Court.
As a matter of fact, picking a Supreme Court Justice should not even be based on mere political leanings. The only thing that should matter when selecting a Supreme Court nominee is that particular nominees ability to adequately interpret, protect, and uphold the Constitution.
It is also important that we consider the Supreme Court for what it is: one of the three branches of government that is equal to the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch.
And for the Supreme Court to function at its best ability, it must have a full bench of nine justices.
Photo courtesy of PBS.