I’ll be the first person to tell you that I liked Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I’ve always seen her as one of the most intelligent and insightful jurists to serve on the Supreme Court. She was Justice Antonin Scalia’s best friend for a reason. I have watched her grill attorneys into hamburger meat during oral arguments probing the meaning of the constitution in US law. She truly was the guiding light of the liberal side of the Supreme Court. As far as I’m concerned, the United States was lucky to have her for the time that it did. I personally mourn her passing.
But all things pass. The time of the grand dame of the Supreme Court has ended. And the acrimony that is American politics is about to overshadow her legacy.
If you have been watching the news, the fact that there was discussion circulating names of possible Supreme Court nominees was a harbinger of doom. Nothing ever happens by accident in Washington DC. The word was already spreading that Ginsburg’s remaining days with us were few.
On September 16, 2020, the Trump White House released the names of twenty new potential nominees. That marked the beginning of what’s called the “trial balloon” process. That’s where researchers and focus groups begin to go to work vetting the names to see which one the President will ultimately nominate.
That list includes:
- Daniel Cameron, Attorney General of the State of Kentucky
- Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas,
- Tom Cotton of Arkansas
- Josh Hawley of Missouri
- Bridget Bade, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
- Paul Clement, former U.S. solicitor general
- Stuart Kyle Duncan, 5th Circuit judge
- Stephen Engel, assistant attorney general
- Noel Francesco, former solicitor general
- James Ho, 5th Circuit judge
- Gregory Katsas, D.C. Circuit judge
- Barbara Lagoa, 11th Circuit judge
- Christopher Landau, U.S. ambassdor to Mexico
- Carlos Muñiz, Florida Supreme Court
- Martha Packold, Northern District of Illinois judge
- Peter Phipps, 3rd Circuit judge
- Sarah Pitlyk, Eastern District of Missouri judge
- Allison Jones Rushing, 4th Circuit judge
- Kate Todd, deputy assistant to the president
- Lawrence Van Dyke, 9th Circuit judge
Let’s be clear about DC politics here. This is a necessary process. The Biden campaign also assembled a list of names. Hoping that the “trial ballooning” period would not have to begin until after the elections, the Democrats held back their list from the public. You can be sure there are reporters it’s been leaked to. That’s how the swamp works.
What happens next will be predictable. The die is cast. It is, in my opinion, impossible that the White House not to jump on the fleeting opportunity to nominate and confirm one of those twenty candidates.
The chess pieces are in place. It has to be done between now and the election. It will require the full cooperation of the Senate Republicans. To fail to do so risks not being able to do so again for the remainder of their lifetimes. It is that pivotal a moment in American history.
It will suck pretty much everything else about the November 2020 election into its vortex. It will be a full-blown political war on Capitol Hill.
It will determine the outcome of the election. Whatever calculus you have had in your head about mail-in voting, voter apathy, differing nuances in attracting, dissuading, and influencing voter bases. Throw all that out the window. This just became a 4th down with 98 yards to go play for the contestants.
The Democrats will defend with everything they have. They have no choice. There was no one as insightful or as skilled in jurisprudence on the liberal side of the court as Ginsburg. She was their light. Without her, they have lost one of the three branches of government.
My call? Both sides are eligible. The whistle is blown. The clock is counting.
Expect the pundits to start screaming immediately.
As for me, goodbye sweet lady. I shall miss your wit. My deepest condolences to your family in their time of loss.