Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died at the age of 87 after a long and public battle with pancreatic cancer. In the 36 hours since the announcement of her death, social media activists, politicos and pundits have put forth reactions that range from outright calls for violence to total dismissal of the Constitution’s clear explanation of the rules for nominating a Supreme Court justice.
Reza Aslan, a CNN product who is most notable for saying that Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann had a “punchable face,” posted tweets that are meant to incite violence, threatening President Trump and the Republican-led Senate (and Americans) if they should try to replace Ginsburg this close to the election:
This was followed by an echos of calls for violence on social media, including from celebrities and university professors. Justice Ginsburg, in a letter dictated to her granddaughter just days before her death, stated her dying wish:
My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.
Celebrities and members of Congress like Rep. Ocasio-Cortez have jumped on this, demanding that President Trump not move forward with any nomination:
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was commenting before the word of Ginsburg’s death reached the entire country. And, in typical weak-leader fashion, it was his usual, inchoate bluster:
Sen. Schumer followed that up with a call to the Democratic Senate Caucus:
Let me be clear: If Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year. Nothing is off the table
First, that’s a threat. It was backed up by the comments of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who threatened another round of impeachment over it. It doesn’t take much to wonder what would happen if President Trump won re-election and Democrats took control of the Senate. It is very clear that, under “Leader” Schumer, the world’s most deliberative body would become Revenge, Incorporated.
Second, wishes are not laws. And the last wish of Justice Ginsburg has no bearing on how the country moves forward. And it must move forward.
Of course, there are screams of hypocrisy. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell held up the nomination of President Obama’s pick for SCOTUS, Merrick Garland. McConnell would not call for a vote, waiting out Obama’s presidency. The Left is saying the same rules have to apply. Just two problems. First, as Mollie Hemminway explains, the so-called rule was about different parties:
Also, it should be noted that many Democrats saying the Senate should confirm in 2016 are now – shockingly! – opposed to confirmation (including Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden!) The hypocrisy is on all sides. But, as Andrew McCarthy explained in National Review, the only rule comes from the Constitution:
In reality, there are only two rules, both set forth in the Constitution: A president, for as long as he or she is president, has the power to nominate a person to fill a Supreme Court seat; and that nominee can fill the seat only with the advice and consent of the Senate. That’s it. Everything else is posturing. Everything else is politics.
President Trump is free to nominate anyone at anytime. And the Senate is free to vote on that nominee. (Remember, their role isn’t to attack, yell “I am Spartacus!” or accuse people of sexual misconduct without facts or evidence. The role of the Senate on SCOTUS nominees is, “advise and consent.” They can also decide not to call a vote, as they did in 2016. Posturing for television cameras is not actually needed.)
The big ‘hot take’ in the 36 hours after the death of Justice Ginsburg is that the Supreme Court will be the top issue going into November. But that ‘hot take’ is not accurate.
Being the top story on cable news does not make it the top story in Wisconsin or Michigan. Voters in the Midwest are still looking at the economy. Voters in states that had or continue to have various stages of draconian lockdowns, keeping them from feeding their families and building their businesses, are still looking at the economy. Those Americans, for possibly the first time in their lives, who can identify where the local food pantry is (and can get there without the assistance of Google Maps) are still looking at the economy.
Voters in Kenosha, WI – and those who have been watching what happened in Kenosha – are talking about law and order. Voters who watched the Minneapolis City Council vote to defund the police in June, only to have those same Council members complain recently on a video call with MPD that their constituents are worried about rising crime, and the lack of police presence, are talking about law and order. In my beloved Indianapolis, where two BLM activists pointed semi-automatic handguns at cars to prevent them from driving down a major thoroughfare, they are talking about law and order.
And every time BLM activists and rioters cause untold damage in our country’s downtowns, or march down suburban streets yelling at people to “wake up,” and through entertainment areas in Rochester, NY or Charlotte, NC telling restaurant patrons that they’re, “shutting the party down,” suburban soccer moms – that Democrats are relying on to vote for Joe Biden – are talking about how they keep their kids safe. Translation: Law and Order.
And every time these same activists (from BLM or Antifa) show that it’s not about race, but rather about tearing down American and eradicating Western culture, voters are talking about law and order.
The death of Justice Ginsburg may be a motivator for some, and it might bring more people out on Election Day. But the idea that the Supreme Court is now the primary issue of this election is ‘hot take hot garbage’ at this point. The long-term vision of the Supreme Court’s make-up will come after the most immediate needs of Americans are tended to – jobs and safety. Translation: The Economy, and Law and Order.