• Phil Latham

Ginsburg leaves behind a task, not a treasure

Elections have consequences. If you’ve ever doubted that, just consider the news over the past week or so about the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ginsburg, who had dodged death with previous bouts of cancer, finally succumbed to metastatic pancreatic cancer. While those close to her knew it was imminent, most of us were shocked to hear the news, even if we knew she was desperately ill.

Almost immediately the political machinations of replacing a Supreme Court justice whirred into motion. Well “whirred” isn’t exactly the right word. A better description is, “slunk,” or perhaps, “slithered.”

Republicans were almost certainly already prepared to act the second Ginsburg died, sort of like a family waiting for the reading of the will to learn who gets grandpa’s fortune.

I don’t know if Ginsburg had any riches but I do know what she is passing along has nothing to do with money. She left us with a responsibility to carry on, to move her work forward. She knew the work would not be over when she died.

This isn’t a treasure like that in grandpa's will, it is a task.

She left to us the job of doing more, with the admonition to not quit.

For sure, Ginsburg herself did not quit, though she was often on the losing side in opinions brought forth by the court. She wore special “dissent collars” with her robe when she was going to disagree with the majority opinion.

Those dissents often upbraided the court for its decision and laid out the logical reasoning for her opinion. They were not written in vain. Ginsburg explained that they were written to future justices and those who might bring matters before the court.

Her dissents were clues to the future and, along with everything the court decides, will remain a part of the record forever.

I avoided just about every source of possible negative idiocy on the internet after Ginsburg’s death, knowing full well it would call to fools like a full moon to a werewolf. I was remarkably successful. I only had to use a few of my silver bullets to slay the beasts, which is good because those silver bullets aren’t cheap.

It has been far more difficult to escape the endless pleading of Democrats to wait until after the election to nominate and approve a new member of court until after the election.

Sorry, but that ain’t gonna happen.

It will not happen even though the Republicans swore when they blocked a vote on Merritt Garland — nominated by then-president Barack Obama to the court — that they were establishing a new precedent. They said they would do the same thing if it meant blocking a nominee from a Republican president’s nominee.


That was a real knee-slapper and all Senate Democrats had to know it was a joke the moment it was spoken by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

They blocked Obama’s nominee because they could. They held the majority and their word meant nothing. Has it ever meant anything? I don’t remember that.

Simply put, the Republicans, or Democrats, could legally vote on Jan. 19, the day before the presidency was to change hands to approve a new Supreme Court justice. That’s legal but not smart, which often doesn’t count for much in politics these days. There is nothing illegal about what the Republicans are doing. I can almost promise that Democrats would do exactly the same thing in similar circumstances.

Instead of castigating Republicans I’m venting my frustration on non-voters. It isn’t Republicans who elected Donald Trump to the presidency, it was those who sat at home and did nothing.

This is something to be remembered every election, not just the one in November. Just winning one election doesn’t get you far. Every. Single. Election is important.

Stay at home at your own peril.

Not voting is a slap in the face of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s memory. There’s only so much she could do. At some point the rest of us are going to have to stand up.

Ruth is telling you to go vote.

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