With senators elected every six years and the president elected every four, there’s only one branch of government where high-up government officials can serve for life: the U.S. Supreme Court.
This lack of an expiration date provides for an experience not often seen in the other two branches of government, wherein an important government official can die while in office. Also unlike the other branches, Supreme Court justices aren’t elected by the public, but selected by the president themself.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg served as an incredible associate justice, the second ever woman and first Jewish person to be given a seat. She fought for many rights important to the Democratic Party, notoriously tackling issues regarding equal rights for women time and time again.
RBG went to Harvard, one of nine women in a 500-person class. She faced discrimination throughout her education and career and went on to become a Supreme Court justice, appointed by President Bill Clinton.
She was an inspiration for women, a symbol of what they could accomplish and a beacon of hope when faced with adversity. Her loss was a blow to many, and possibly a symbol of what’s wrong with the U.S.
When faced with her death, many people took to social media to both mourn her and claim that hope was lost. For many, RBG seemed like the last line of defense, her death a terrible omen in the months before the election.
NO! RBG was our last hope. RIP USA. The great experiment is over.— Adam Met (@AdamAJRbrothers) September 18, 2020
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg said to her granddaughter on Friday, days before her death. This sentiment should be honored and respected, and not only because it was a dying woman’s last request.
Anyone that President Donald Trump appoints will have a place in the Supreme Court long after he’s out of office. If he appoints someone now and isn’t reelected in November, then that justice can serve for as long as they’re able.
Not only that, but when Antonin Scalia passed away during Obama’s presidency in February 2016, Obama wasn’t allowed to appoint another justice because of the upcoming presidential election, which was 9 months away. It seems only fair that Trump should have to hold off for the next two months.
Further still, the number of Supreme Court justices isn’t static. Nine justices have served for more than 150 years, but that could change. If Trump elects a justice now, unbalancing the Supreme Court, Democrats in Congress may feel the need to pack the courts, according to NPR. More justices could be appointed to make up for the lead in Republican-appointed justices, which would only cause Republican retaliation, packing the courts even more.
While RBG’s death is a great loss, it doesn’t have to mean that hope’s lost. It’s time for the rest of the country to pick up the slack and continue the fight where she left off. This means fighting for the next appointment not to be made until after the election and avoiding putting all hope on one person who, like the rest of us, is only human.
In the words of the notorious RBG, "Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you."
May her memory be a blessing.
Jillian Carey is a junior media arts and design major. Contact Jillian at firstname.lastname@example.org.