A. Scott Bolden: Confirmation of Supreme Court justice must wait until after presidential inauguration

.Supreme Court battle looms between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate

The illustrious life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg came to a solemn end Friday, and with her passing comes a perfect storm of political urgency and brinkmanship, leaving us precious little time to reflect on her extraordinary life and her decades-long defense of equality under the law.

For those of us in the legal community — regardless of our political persuasions — Ginsburg’s death leaves us with both a massive loss to grieve and a stellar legacy to uphold. She was the second woman to serve on the high court and a legal pioneer for gender equality. Her scathing opinions earned her the nickname “Notorious RBG” — a riff on a famous rapper — and gave rise to her celebrity status.

A trailblazer who endured sex discrimination in law school and at work, Ginsburg co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women's Rights Project. She became the first woman to be granted tenure at Columbia Law School. She served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia before she was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

WHITEHOUSE WARNS GOP CAN'T COMPLAIN ABOUT 'FUTURE PROCEDURAL EFFORTS' BY DEMS IF SCOTUS PICK CONFIRMED

For marginalized and historically underrepresented Americans, Ginsburg helped draw the battle lines for intersectionality — shining a spotlight on the parallels between sexism, racism and homophobia — and a carving path to legal remedies to combat discrimination against women and other groups.

In 2013, when the Supreme Court struck down a vital piece of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act — leaving millions of Black and poor citizens in Southern states effectively disenfranchised without legal recourse — Ginsburg dissented from the bench. She invoked the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march to Selma, Ala., and Martin Luther King’s historic demands for equal access to the ballot.

“History,” Ginsburg said, “has proved King right.”

Ginsburg lived and breathed what we all should know: the law is not an abstract idea, not a random player in the game of governance. The law is the beating heart of democracy. The rulings of our Supreme Court define who we are as Americans, what we value as human beings, and how far we will go to protect the Constitution.

As an African American lawyer, I will always remember where I was when I heard the news of her passing. I am grieving not just because of the passing of this champion, but also the realization that our democracy is apparently far more fragile than we ever knew.

Our institutions have been breached; our faith in elections eroded. The Supreme Court — meant to be a powerful check and balance on the legislative and executive branches — is now subject to becoming a political pawn in the Republican Party’s hypocritical power grab.

In this tumultuous year, we have battled a plague, racial unrest, economic catastrophe, the diminishing of our electoral process, the rise of white supremacy — and perhaps most chilling of all, we are witnessing the law itself being perverted into a partisan weapon.  It is no longer hyperbolic to assert that democracy itself is on the brink of extinction. It is now just a simple fact.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has already thrown down the gauntlet, declaring his intention for the Senate to confirm a new Supreme Court justice this year, even though voting in the presidential election has already begun in several states.

McConnell’s position is a blatant reversal from 2016, when he denied President Barack Obama’s nominee for a Supreme Court seat (U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland) so much as a hearing. McConnell said then that “the American people should have a voice in the process” so close to an election.

Obama nominated Garland on March 16, 2016 — almost eight months before the presidential election that year. President Trump says he will nominate a successor to Ginsburg on Saturday, far closer to Election Day Nov. 3, and in a year when a record number of early votes will be cast due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., swiftly responded to McConnell’s promise that the Senate will vote this year on Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Schumer said that if the GOP goes forward with a nomination now, “nothing is off the table for next year.”

That’s a clear threat that if we have a Democratic-controlled White House and Senate next year, Democrats may well expand Supreme Court to load it with Democratic appointees. That’s a righteous and pure partisan response.

Of course, there’s no law or constitutional rule to stop McConnell’s blatant hypocrisy, or Schumer’s future revenge. Nothing is stopping them but precedent integrity, and faith in the American experiment. None of this gets us closer to human decency in American politics; it just moves us closer to more heated and more dangerous partisanship.

This is why the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice must wait until the next person elected president —Republican incumbent Donald Trump or Democratic presidential nominees former Vice President Joe Biden — takes office in January.

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If Mitch McConnell presses forward in ramming through a Supreme Court nominee in the next few weeks, the work of Justice Ginsburg and the rights of millions of Americans will be at risk with a 6-3 conservative majority on the high court.

More than just the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision upholding abortion rights will be threatened. The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), marriage equality for same-sex couples, the right to privacy, the unchecked proliferation of guns, voting accessibility, Internet monitoring, facial recognition use in law enforcement, the militarization of the police, and so much more could be determined by the Supreme Court.

The illustrious life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg came to a solemn end Friday, and with her passing comes a perfect storm of political urgency and brinkmanship, leaving us precious little time to reflect on her extraordinary life and her decades-long defense of equality under the law.

For those of us in the legal community — regardless of our political persuasions — Ginsburg’s death leaves us with both a massive loss to grieve and a stellar legacy to uphold. She was the second woman to serve on the high court and a legal pioneer for gender equality. Her scathing opinions earned her the nickname “Notorious RBG” — a riff on a famous rapper — and gave rise to her celebrity status.

A trailblazer who endured sex discrimination in law school and at work, Ginsburg co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women's Rights Project. She became the first woman to be granted tenure at Columbia Law School. She served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia before she was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

WHITEHOUSE WARNS GOP CAN'T COMPLAIN ABOUT 'FUTURE PROCEDURAL EFFORTS' BY DEMS IF SCOTUS PICK CONFIRMED

For marginalized and historically underrepresented Americans, Ginsburg helped draw the battle lines for intersectionality — shining a spotlight on the parallels between sexism, racism and homophobia — and a carving path to legal remedies to combat discrimination against women and other  groups.

In 2013, when the Supreme Court struck down a vital piece of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act — leaving millions of Black and poor citizens in Southern states effectively disenfranchised without legal recourse — Ginsburg dissented from the bench. She invoked the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march to Selma, Ala., and Martin Luther King’s historic demands for equal access to the ballot.

“History,” Ginsburg said, “has proved King right.”

Ginsburg lived and breathed what we all should know: the law is not an abstract idea, not a random player in the game of governance. The law is the beating heart of democracy. The rulings of our Supreme Court define who we are as Americans, what we value as human beings, and how far we will go to protect the Constitution.

As an African American lawyer, I will always remember where I was when I heard the news of her passing. I am grieving not just because of the passing of this champion, but also the realization that our democracy is apparently far more fragile than we ever knew.

Our institutions have been breached; our faith in elections eroded. The Supreme Court — meant to be a powerful check and balance on the legislative and executive branches — is now subject to becoming a political pawn in the Republican Party’s hypocritical power grab.

In this tumultuous year, we have battled a plague, racial unrest, economic catastrophe, the diminishing of our electoral process, the rise of white supremacy — and perhaps most chilling of all, we are witnessing the law itself being perverted into a partisan weapon.  It is no longer hyperbolic to assert that democracy itself is on the brink of extinction. It is now just a simple fact.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has already thrown down the gauntlet, declaring his intention for the Senate to confirm a new Supreme Court justice this year, even though voting in the presidential election has already begun in several states.

McConnell’s position is a blatant reversal from 2016, when he denied President Barack Obama’s nominee for a Supreme Court seat (U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland) so much as a hearing. McConnell said then that “the American people should have a voice in the process” so close to an election.

Obama nominated Garland on March 16, 2016 — almost eight months before the presidential election that year. President Trump says he will nominate a successor to Ginsburg on Saturday, far closer to Election Day Nov. 3, and in a year when a record number of early votes will be cast due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., swiftly responded to McConnell’s promise that the Senate will vote this year on Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Schumer said that if the GOP goes forward with a nomination now, “nothing is off the table for next year.”

That’s a clear threat that if we have a Democratic-controlled White House and Senate next year, Democrats may well expand Supreme Court to load it with Democratic appointees. That’s a righteous and ure partisan response.

Of course, there’s no law or constitutional rule to stop McConnell’s blatant hypocrisy, or Schumer’s future revenge. Nothing is stopping them but precedent integrity, and faith in the American experiment. None of this gets us closer to human decency in American politics; it just moves us closer to more heated and more dangerous partisanship.

This is why the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice must wait until the next person elected president —Republican incumbent Donald Trump or Democratic presidential nominees former Vice President Joe Biden — takes office in January.

 CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR OPINION NEWSLETTER

If Mitch McConnell presses forward in ramming through a Supreme Court nominee in the next few weeks, the work of Justice Ginsburg and the rights of millions of Americans will be at risk with a 6-3 conservative majority on the high court.

More than just the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision upholding abortion rights will be threatened. The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), marriage equality for same-sex couples, the right to privacy, the unchecked proliferation of guns, voting accessibility, Internet monitoring, facial recognition use in law enforcement, the militarization of the police, and so much more could be determined by the Supreme Court.

Ginsburg, an 87-year-old cancer survivor standing barely 5-foot-1, stood firmly on the side of equality. “I dissent,” she stated, time and again, and it is that steely determination we must call on now.

We the living, who must now resist every flagrant attempt to undermine the integrity of the law, are uplifted and inspired by Ginsburg’s commitment to justice and her famous words: I must dissent.

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Ginsburg, an 87-year-old cancer survivor standing barely 5-foot-1, stood firmly on the side of equality. “I dissent,” she stated, time and again, and it is that steely determination we must call on now.

We the living, who must now resist every flagrant attempt to undermine the integrity of the law, are uplifted and inspired by Ginsburg’s commitment to justice and her famous words: I must dissent.

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