As much as most of us would rather not talk about it, it’s necessary: What happens if Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the most iconic and beloved Supreme Court justices of all time, dies before inauguration day 2021? Don’t plan on Trump doing anything but picking the most conservative nominee he possibly could, and don’t plan on McConnell doing anything but rushing his confirmation.
The news that Justice Ginsburg again has cancer is deeply upsetting. It is hard for me to watch a true American hero go through serious health problem after serious health problem. It’s also hard for me to consider what Trump would do with another Supreme Court vacancy. A 6-3 conservative supermajority in the Supreme Court populated by at least two young conservative justices would skew a minimum of one generation of decisions to the right of the political spectrum.
In President Obama’s eighth year in office, Justice Antonin Scalia died. Instead of Mitch McConnell performing his constitutionally enumerated duties and holding confirmation hearings for President Obama’s centrist nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, he made up a rule about it being inappropriate for a president to appoint a Supreme Court justice within a year of the next election. McConnell’s entirely baseless assertion prevailed, the framers of the Constitution rolled over in their graves, and Trump got to immediately nominate Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Trump should only have had one Supreme Court nominee. But he might get three. You might be wondering if McConnell still believes the baseless rule he applied to President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland. Well, he doesn’t. Of course he doesn’t. Like most conservatives, he moves the goal posts as it suits him.
The Guardian article linked above makes mention of this: “The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, controversially kept a seat open in the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency, after the death of the conservative Antonin Scalia, arguing it had happened too close to the election. But he has said he will fill any seat vacated before the next presidential contest, in November.”
This whole story is a reminder that elections matter. The party in power matters, no matter how much people (wrongly) think that both parties are the same or nearly the same. They are not. The Supreme Court is often the litmus test for a president’s true ideology. If you don’t want the highest court in the land spitting out one reactionary decision after another, then there’s only one person who you can vote for in November.