The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is likely to result in a more conservative and less tolerant US.
Rabat – The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is likely to result in deep structural changes in the United States. Justice Ginsburg, known colloquially as RBG, died of cancer at the age of 87 on September 18. The news sent a shock-wave through the US as the country’s politicized supreme court is now likely to make a lurch towards the right.
The unapologetically political nature of judges in the US means that US President Donald Trump can now nominate a deeply conservative judge that can shape the surging debate about the rights of Americans. With 45 days left until election day, Republicans have jump-started the nomination of a new justice in order to make the appointment an election issue.
Right-wing and conservative voters in the US see the appointment of a like-minded judge as a key way to influence issues such as abortion rights, voting rights for minorities and protections for immigrants and the LGBTQ+ community. Supreme court justices hold their position for life, meaning that a relatively young new justice could impact US rights for several decades.
The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg comes just ahead of the elections. Democrats faced a similar Supreme Court nomination after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.
Scalia died ten months before the election, but Republicans insisted the appointment could not be done prior to the election. Republicans blocked the nomination, leading to the appointment of controversial, conservative Brett Kavanaugh following Trump’s unexpected election in 2016.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said at the time. “This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new presidency,” he stated as the reason for blocking the corporate candidate that then-President Barack Obama had proposed.
Within an hour of the death of Justice Scalia, Republicans had announced they would not support a Supreme Court nomination in the ten-month run-up to the elections in 2016. This time around, however, Republicans have already started the nomination process for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement. The rush and the immediacy suggest they want to ensure the nomination of a conservative just 45 days before the next election.
It appears that Republicans are now torn between whether to push through a new nominee immediately in the Republican-controlled senate, or to wait and turn the appointment into an election issue. In 2016, 15 million Trump voters stated they voted in order to influence the open Supreme Court position.
Together with Trump’s foreign policy “wins” granted by the UAE and Bahrain, the supreme court pick could tip the balance in favor of Trump and conservative voters, changing and dictating the country’s direction for decades to come.