September 8, 2023 opinion

Trump administration disregard Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s last words

author_bio
Aleksandra Lasek in Warsaw, Poland

Article link copied.

slide image

Vigil for Ruth Bader Ginsburg outside the Supreme Court, September 19, 2020

Picture by: yashmori | Flickr

“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

The final words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) to her granddaughter, has seen the former justice’s worst fear brought into reality. And it happened just a week after her passing.

RBG was an exceptional lawyer and icon for women’s rights. She was disregarded without a second thought. Her last wish has been completely tarnished by the Donald Trump administration in the last moments of its reign.

The disastrous results led to a reversal of one of the biggest constitutional landmarks in US human rights history – Roe V Wade.

The former justice spent 27 years serving on the Supreme Court and advocated for and represented women on a national stage. She was the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, and the first female tenured professor at Columbia Law School.

She earned her first degree at Cornell University where she met her future husband Martin Ginsburg, completing her legal education at Columbia Law School. She continued to earn her experience by teaching at Rutgers Law School and volunteering at the American Civil Liberties Union.

One of the first cases she argued in front of the Supreme Court in 1971, Reed v Reed, transcends into the first time the Court opposed legislation based on gender discrimination.

Learn more about her achievemnts:

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

After a rather extensive list of successes in her legal career, RBG was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton.

During her tenure, she was a dedicated supporter of women’s and minorities rights, helping to legalise same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015.

She became a national treasure and was hailed as a symbol of progressive politics, dubbed “The Notorious RBG” by her fans.

The efforts of RGB soon came under greater opposition following the results of the 2016 presidential elections, which saw the Republicans grow in majority.

It became vital for RBG to hold on to her position for the four-year term under Trump until the end of 2020. The success of Trump meant that he was the one who was able to name her successor in the Supreme Court.

RBG almost made it until the end, but sadly passed just three months before the next administration at the age of 87.

On September 18, we celebrate the anniversary of her death. Her final months were spent in and out of the hospital, receiving chemotherapy and other treatments. And amidst her physical suffering, her fear came true. Her last words to her granddaughter Clara Spera were: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

On October 26, right before Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, Trump was able to secure a rapid Grand Old Party (GOP) controlled Senate approval for Amy Coney Barrett, a former US appellate judge and Notre Dame law professor.

America’s highest court, which had been balanced along a 5-4 conservative-liberal axis for decades, with swing-vote justices occasionally providing moderation, was unexpectedly taken over by a 6-3 conservative supermajority.

The legacy left by RBG has been shattered by that strong right-wing majority.

Days after Barrett’s nomination on September 26, Vice President Kamala Harris’ comment on Trump’s imposed polarization has transformed into a discussion on the situation in the Supreme Court.

In her remarks, Harris mentioned Barrett, presenting her not just as an antagonist of Ginsburg’s legacy, but also as someone who “will undo [Ginsburg’s] life’s work.” Harris cited the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade as examples of parts of American life under threat.

Just as anticipated, the constitutional landmark, Roe v Wade has been overturned by the US Supreme Court on Friday, June 24, 2022. The ruling overturned 50 years of legal protection and cleared the opportunity for individual states to limit or outright prohibit abortion rights. Abortion is now illegal in many states automatically or by state action as a result of trigger legislation enacted prior to the verdict.

The reversal of Roe v Wade had a tremendous impact on women’s rights globally. The landmark influenced campaigns and legislation in countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. According to POLITICO, activists worldwide have voiced concern about other countries after the Supreme Court’s ruling.

This verdict might potentially herald a return to US obstructionism on sexual and reproductive health and rights across the world, as well as a renewed push to remove US support for reproductive health care.

The decision of the US Supreme Court has shown that any step towards the notion of progress can be just as easily reversed into a backward one.

Written by:

author_bio

Aleksandra Lasek

Human Rights Section Editor

Warsaw, Poland

Born in Krosno, Poland, in 2006, Aleksandra plans to major in political science in international relations with the ambition to acquire a degree in law. For Harbingers’ Magazine, she writes mostly about politics and social sciences with plans to contribute creative writing and poetry as well.

She started as a contributor for Harbingers’ Magazine in 2022. In 2023, she was promoted twice – first to the role of the Human Rights correspondent and, subsequently, to the Human Rights section editor. As the section editor, she commenced her work by organising the Essay on Women’s Rights Competition, which elected six members of the Women’s Rights Newsroom.

Aleksandra’s academic interests cover history, politics, civil rights movements and any word Mary Wollstonecraft wrote. She is also interested in music (her favourite performers being Dominic Fike, MF DOOM, and The Kooks) and anything that includes the voice of Morgan Freeman.

Aleksandra speaks English, Polish, and Spanish.

opinion