If Wishes Were Horses

Em Carpenter

Em was one of those argumentative children who was sarcastically encouraged to become a lawyer, so she did. She is a proud life-long West Virginian, and, paradoxically, a liberal. In addition to writing about society, politics and culture, she enjoys cooking, podcasts, reading, and pretending to be a runner. She will correct your grammar. You can find her on Twitter.

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44 Responses

  1. Damon says:

    “RBG’s wish is a non-story, a poignant detail from her last days that amounts to nothing more than an anecdote.” Indeed. It’s not even newsworthy….so why was it “news”. Oh, right….Report

  2. Dark Matter says:

    The woman stayed on the bench through multiple bouts of cancer and to an age to which most of us will be lucky to survive in hopes of preventing that very thing.

    She started fighting with cancer 21 years ago in 1999. She’s had it 5 times. She started having tumors while Obama had a super majority during the EARLY days of his Presidency (Feb 2009) and could easily replace her with her clone. She had a heart stent put in on Nov 2014 (and could have had Obama lame duck a replacement even then) when she was 81.

    She was going to die in office.

    I’m sure she would rather be replaced by her own team, but if you’re unwilling to step down then it’s pretty random.Report

    • Em Carpenter in reply to Dark Matter says:

      Her family says that after her husband died she threw herself even more into her work. She probably would have died sooner if she’d given it up. I won’t second guess her decision to stay. It was her life’s work and she didn’t owe anything to anyone.
      Maybe looking back she wished she had, but who in 2014 could have predicted this shit show?Report

      • Damon in reply to Em Carpenter says:

        Really, who could have predicted? A political push back to 8 years of Obama with the Dems running a candidate that was a lightening rod to the other side? Who could have predicted this? Didn’t Nate Silver or some other guy actually do that that? Of course, no one paid any attention to him.Report

        • The question in reply to Damon says:

          This comment makes no sense because there’s literally no Democrat who could be president who the Republicans would not turn into a lighting rod for partisanship.

          and yes I’m including Jesus age Christ reborn and running as a Democrat because suddenly they discover the old testament was a lot more meaningful than the new and who’s this hippie Jesus anywayReport

      • Dark Matter in reply to Em Carpenter says:

        The “shit show” has VERY little to do with anything. Trump is a mess but his Supreme picks are standard high functioning GOP. One assumes he’s stealing someone else’s homework.

        The end result is there is no difference between who he’s putting up and who a President Pence would.

        I’m even hard pressed to think that a President Pence could do this with less Drama. The Dems are going to freak out and do things like make false rape accusations no matter how boring and ethical the choice is.


        Moving the talk back to RBG, when you look at the changes she made and the adversary she overcame, my expectation is she was carved out of willpower and determination.

        From her point of view the illness would have been just one more thing to overcome, and she did so 4+ times.Report

  3. Philip H says:

    Watching her casket arrive at the Supreme Court the other day, I was struck about how “ordinary people” it all was. Her pall bearers were former clerks, and while they tried to match step carrying her home one more time, they were not the precision military honor guard that Congressmen and Presidents get. They were 8 humans charged with carrying their boss, mentor and friend through a crowd of other humans who were their colleagues. It could just as easily have been up the steps of a small synagogue in Brooklyn.

    That humanity may well be her greatest gift, and it is reflected in both her desire to work through everything thrown at her, and her final message. That this is now weaponized in service of politics is revolting.Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    The joke that I saw going on the twitters was “what about Scalia’s last wish?”

    In any case, I agree that RPG probably wanted to be replaced by someone who had a similar judicial philosophy. I imagine that every single person on the court has a judicial philosophy that they think is a correct judicial philosophy and the only differences are how many other judicial philosophies they see as equally valid.

    That said, the fact that actual politicians are saying that RBG’s dying wishes are relevant is one of the ghosts haunting us right now and this ghost is a proxy for the “real” fight. Nobody would care if RBG’s dying wish was something involving the Chicago Bears. Well, Lions fans might care. Anyway, her opinion was just another cudgel for folks to use. If you don’t agree with her, you must not respect her! And if you don’t respect her, you’re bad!

    Which, I suppose, brings us back to the whole “a judicial philosophy” versus “*THE* judicial philosophy” thing.

    And how willing you are to allow for there to be equally valid different ones.Report

  5. Aaron David says:

    Whether or not those were her actual dying words, the idea of them was introduced into the political troposphere, where they will be used by all involved in politics in some sort of attempt to gain partisan advantage.

    Thus it ever was.

    (If the people who first let loose the idea of her “dying wish” to the public didn’t think this would happen, they are political naif’s)Report

    • George Turner in reply to Aaron David says:

      I’m pretty sure that Donald Trump’s brother’s dying words were “I hope Donald replaces RGB with Amy Coney Barrett”, but no reporter wrote it down and published it. Still, the country should respect his probable wishes.Report

  6. The conformation hearings will need to explore the nominee’s opinions about Bush v. Gore, e.g. “Is handing the presidency to an incompetent Republican a binding precedent?”Report

  7. Pinky says:

    Pushback: there was something unseemly about saying it. Even if it could be presumed, there’s something ugly about saying it. It should tarnish her reputation, or rather confirm it as a political rather than legal person. Because she was an activist, someone interested in outcomes rather than process. In her time, the Court extended its influence over the individual. So the image of her last words being anti-democratic, that was bound to stick.Report

  8. “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed” is entirely about process; it’s a desire that the precedent established in 2016 be respected.

    Unless, of course, refusing to confirm a justice then while rushing to do it now is about outcomes rather than principle. Hard to believe, when so many pixels insisting otherwise were spilled at the time.Report

  9. Kazzy says:

    “ 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.”

    Not quite. The GOP wanted a different quote included, something about not wanting to increase the number of justices.

    In this case, it really was BSDI.Report

  10. CJColucci says:

    Em, are you the least bit surprised at the reaction to your entirely reasonable piece? Or did you find it as predictable as I did?Report

  11. George Turner says:

    What got me about the coverage is that RBG has been lying in state at the Supreme Court building for at least the past two years. How is this even news?Report

  12. We all know we are about to engage in a ruthless battle

    Nicely done.Report