Choosing a new SCOTUS: A double bind


Illustration by Alex Hanks

Isabella Nieto, Staff Writer

On September 18, 2020, advocates for gender equality and women’s rights lost a champion in Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Throughout her career, Ginsburg joined the faculty at Columbia University Law School, founded the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project and was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit before serving on the Supreme Court for 27 years. Her name carried both recognition and respect, and her death leaves a seat on the court that is almost too big to fill.

Within a week of Justice Ginsburg’s passing, the Republican Party was quick to express their agreement with President Trump’s nomination of a new Supreme Court justice before the election. Such actions go against the Republican-led Senate’s precedent that blocked President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination in the wake of Justice Scalia’s death. Although the president has the constitutional ability to appoint Supreme Court justices, Trump’s quick nomination of Amy Coney Barrett politicizes and disrespects the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Those who admired Justice Ginsburg are forced to rapidly process and grieve her loss in order to prevent the reversal of her movements toward equality and justice. Despite mass outrage and criticism from Democrats, President Trump has forced the U.S. to analyze and research a potential new Supreme Court justice.

Amy Coney Barrett, tasked with raising seven children while becoming a federal appellate judge and Notre Dame Law professor, is surprisingly similar to Justice Ginsburg. As women, they were both faced with a professional double bind: build a career or have a family and compromise potential success; yet, both women were able to find a balance thanks to the multiple factors that coincided to allow their advancement. 

Conservatives have sided with her appointment based on her deep-rooted Christian ideologies that have influenced her decisions on abortion, the Second Amendment and immigration. Liberals, on the other hand, in addition to her speedy and hypocritical nomination, disapprove of her for the same reasons. 

In 2019, she dissented on a Second Amendment challenge that found a man guilty of felony mail fraud and prohibited him from possessing a firearm. In terms of immigration, she dissented on a case that blocked a Trump policy which disadvantaged green card applicants who applied for public assistance. Throughout her career, she has consistently stated her discontent with the ruling of Roe v. Wade and the upholding of the Affordable Care Act. Such rulings provide a stark contrast to Justice Ginsburg, who had continuously been an advocate for upholding Roe v. Wade, immigrant rights and effective gun control. 

Yet, Americans also must rationalize that Justice Ginsburg fought for the advancement of all women, not just left-leaning women. The two perspectives have definitely increased polarization and have put Americans’ thoughts into a tailspin, prompting those who know the correct course of action to consider an alternate point of view.

The passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is tragic, and it comes at a time when her leadership and opinion on the Court is needed more than ever. Although Trump appeared to be insensitive with his immediate nomination of Justice Barrett, what is done is done. Now, there is little to do, but try to preserve RBG’s legacy by voting in the November election, further advocating for those underrepresented and persisting, just as she did.