If Wishes Were Horses
Really, GOP? You don’t think that Ruth Bader Ginsburg fervently wished that Trump would not be the one to nominate her successor?
That’s right — wished. She did not demand, dictate, or order it. She said she wished it. Times being what they are, though, the story was exaggerated, twisted, dissected, and run through the mill of partisan interpretation.
“I doubt those were her dying words.” Right, well, nobody claimed that they were. Her granddaughter, Clara Spera, said that her grandmother made the statement in the days before her death, in response to a direct question about whether she had a message for the public. She did not say they were the actual last words the woman spoke as she left this life.
“She was a lawyer so if that’s what she wanted, she would have written it down!” Two things here: first, we are not talking about bequeathing property or assets as one would in a will. That a dying person didn’t take the time to write down a list of things she hopes happen after she’s gone is not weird; it would be weird if she had. Secondly, writing it down would give no more power to her words than a second-hand telling of them had. Are we suggesting here that if she had written it down and had it notarized and witnessed that the GOP would exclaim “Wait! This changes everything, guys. We must now hold off on filling the vacancy!”? Of course not, and she would have known that. (There is also the fact that Spera says she did write it out for her at the time, but that really doesn’t matter.)
“Justices don’t get to choose their replacements!” Duh. Again, two things: One: she did not try to “choose” her replacement. Not a single name was purportedly mentioned. (For that matter, she didn’t even say “I hope it is a liberal,” though we can fairly infer that from what we know about her.) Two, nobody on the left is suggesting that a legal genius like Ruth Bader Ginsburg misunderstands the process by which justices are chosen. It is not the Democrats who are suggesting that she thought her words had legal effect; it is the Republicans, in their unnecessary zeal to counter-act any possibility that her wish be taken seriously, who keep arguing that point.
Listen, I love me some RBG. I loathe me some DJT. I am a little nervous about what kind of person he will choose (though not as nervous as others because of my unpopular opinion that justices normally do attempt to follow the law, not their personal beliefs.) But I understand that her wish is just a wish. The nomination, confirmation, and appointment process is what it is, and no one, except for those trying to create controversy where none lies, expected it to be otherwise.
Sure, there was room for argument and hope that the party in power would not try to shove a nominee through in the short amount of time before election day; it seemed a fair suggestion, given that Scalia’s death was 9 months before the election and the sitting president was not permitted so much as a hearing on his pick. Now, of course, the “no new justices during an election year” rule has been retconned into “no new justices during an election year when we don’t like the president, but if we do then game on.” But the debate over the hypocrisy and stupid political gamesmanship is a separate matter from the debate over what Ginsburg wanted or didn’t want.
A ceremonial resolution was presented in the senate to honor Ginsburg. What should have been a unanimously passed no brainer died because someone on the Dem side — Schumer maybe — tacked Ruth’s wish onto it so Ted Cruz killed it. What should have been a fitting commemoration to her service was destroyed by one side’s insistence on including a statement they knew full well would rankle the other, and the other side being unwilling to ignore it, even though they knew full well it had absolutely zero effect. They could have let it go. Both of them, the Democrats and the Republicans. It was not necessary to add that statement, but it wouldn’t have made any difference to have let it go through anyway.
RBG’s wish is a non-story, a poignant detail from her last days that amounts to nothing more than an anecdote. Of course some are going to wield it like weapon, insisting that granting her “dying wish” is somehow a moral imperative, and others are going to play dumb and pretend like it was some attempt to control the judiciary from beyond the grave. It has made the days after her death really ugly.
We all know we are about to engage in a ruthless battle over the nominee; let’s just get on with it and leave the dead out of it. This was not a last will and testament; it was just her giving her last opinion.