President Donald Trump isn’t the only one carrying on with a string of public appearances. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has continued to maintain her place in public life, too, as time has gone on. This week, she condemned Congress for what they’ve done to the judicial confirmation process, turning it into the spectacle we all saw unfold after Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
To be sure, she didn’t mention Kavanaugh, but the tumult that marked his rise looms like an elephant in the room even still. Republicans adamantly refused to hear out most concerns about the judge, despite the fact that those concerns included credible allegations of sexual assault. Instead, they rushed the judge through as soon as they could following a FBI investigation widely derided as a sham thanks to its openly limited scope. That investigation itself only unfolded after the often rhetorically dissenting Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake offered final support for the judge only if an investigation was completed before a vote.
Just recently, he admitted that he did not necessarily know that Kavanaugh was telling the truth when he denied assaulting women including Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the only one of his accusers to appear before the U.S. Senate. Yet, he still voted for him anyway, along with the lion’s share of Republicans and one Democrat, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin. The mostly party line vote underscored just how polarized the process really was.
In contrast, during a Wednesday talk at the D.C. District Court — where she used to preside — Ginsburg extolled “understanding the institution you work for is more important than the egos of the individuals.” She offered a timely example of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was the first woman to serve on the court and just recently announced she would be withdrawing from public life due to dementia.
Ginsburg commented on other current and former members of the court, too, in making her case. She noted that the late Antonin Scalia was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously by the U.S. Senate.
‘What a difference in time that was from what we are witnessing today.’
By the time Scalia died, though, leaving his seat open, the drive in Congress had shifted to the point of Republicans refusing to even hold hearings on then-President Barack Obama’s replacement pick, Merrick Garland. He was among those in attendance Wednesday night in D.C.
Ginsburg was blunt in her personal assessment of the ongoing tense situation, asserting that “to me, the obvious culprit is Congress.”
There’s a chance to change the makeup of Congress in less than two weeks, when the midterms conclude — although the U.S. Senate remains somewhat more out of reach for Democrats than the U.S. House.
At present, FiveThirtyEight estimates a 5 in 6 chance that Democrats are the majority party in the U.S. House come January 2019. They give them an only 1 in 6 chance of winning the U.S. Senate though.
Still, changing the currently homogeneous make-up of Congress would be a useful roadblock to the partisanship Ginsburg described.
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