Sprinkle:The Ginsburg Effect on American political turmoil | COMMENTARY

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Just as we were beginning to think that 2020 could not possibly become more bizarre, yet another divisive brick has crashed through the window of American society sending shards of apprehension, accusations, and acrimonious rhetoric from sea to shining sea.

In an election year, we expect verbal clashes of opposing political theory where civilized people express their views (frequently and loudly), but in the end, all parties are expected to acknowledge that the citizens of a democratic republic have the right not only to choose the future course of their country, but also to select the leaders who will navigate the path forward.


But with the unexpected death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18, yet another source of rancor has been added to the political cauldron that is clearly already on the brink of boil-over.

Despite the liberal bluster and hyperventilation, the sitting president has the absolute right to send the name of a nominee to the U.S. Senate for consideration to fill the position left vacant with Ginsburg’s passing.


In his USA Today, Sept. 22 column, Jonathan Turley wrote the following: “Before Ginsburg died, nine nominations had occurred in election years since 1900, and Ginsburg herself said in 2016 that the Senate had to do its ‘job’ and vote on such nominations because ‘there’s nothing in the Constitution that says the president stops being president in his last year.’”

That being the case, it matters not that Ginsburg purportedly “wished” that she “not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Her public words tell another story — the Senate has to do its job. During the Obama presidency, Ginsburg was pressed to retire, but apparently, she felt no need to do so, presumably because all signs pointed to a Clinton victory in 2016. It was a political miscalculation.

And now the Democrats threaten to “pack the courts,” despite the counsel of Justice Ginsburg. In a column on July 24, 2019, reported that Ginsburg disapproved of increasing the number of seats on the Supreme Court “because doing so would make it look partisan.” Further, Ginsburg said, “It would be that —one side saying, ‘When we’re in power, we’re going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who would vote the way we want them to.’ . . . Nine seems to be a good number. It’s been that way for a long time.”

Turley (himself a Democrat) concluded, “Democrats want to simply engineer a majority in a raw-muscle play after taking over the Senate and the White House. It is as raw and transparent as the FDR court-packing scheme.”

Although I couldn’t have disagreed more with Justice Ginsburg’s judicial philosophy, I respected the Supreme Court legend for her pluck and her perseverance, for the way she faced head-on her personal trials. I admire the way she and her political opposite, Justice Antonin Scalia, could battle intently about some point of law and yet remain the closest of friends.

The law, however, is clear. And so is the raucous upheaval generated by liberals who are sitting on the edge of psychosis with their hyperbolic rants.

“We can impeach [Trump] every day of the week for anything he does,” said Nancy Pelosi. “If [the Senate] holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021. It’s that simple,” offered Joe Kennedy III.

Then, of course, no political firestorm would be complete without the bluster of Chuck Schumer and Jerry Nadler who say “nothing is off the table” and threaten “total war.”


To be certain, in the coming days and weeks and months, we will learn the degree to which Democrats will honor the legacy of Justice Ginsburg. Will they listen to her guidance concerning the president’s and the senate’s constitutional obligation to fill the Supreme Court vacancy? Will they listen to her counsel regarding the number of Supreme Court justices (“Nine seems to be a good number.”) Or will they plow ahead, considering the late Justice to have functioned as nothing more nor less than another useful “arrow in the Democratic quiver”?

M.K. Sprinkle writes from Hampstead. Her column appears every other Saturday. Email her at