The News Editorial: Leadership lost
September 24, 2020
We need leadership in Washington, D.C. now more than ever but leadership is lacking from both of the country’s major political parties. While we can point to many examples, the most recent came after the sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Sen. Charles Schumer’s first tweet upon learning of her death was not about Ginsburg or her legacy it was about politics. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” And then later he tweeted, “Tonight, we mourn the passing of a giant in American history, a champion for justice, a trailblazer for women.”
After Schumer’s tweets, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted, “The Senate and the nation mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the conclusion of her extraordinary American life.”
He also included his full statement that a nominee by President Donald J. Trump would get a vote on the Senate floor.
And less than 24 hours after the passing of RGB the battle over whether there should or should not be a nomination, whether there is enough time, how it will change the court has begun and left in the dust is a legacy of a remarkable woman, a trailblazer for women, a champion for gender equality and women’s rights.
My favorite quote from Ginsburg is, ““Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
Sadly, instead of honoring RGB we are talking about the Supreme Court nomination process, about the number of Supreme Court justices (and no we should not add any more, nine has served us well since 1869).
Instead of relishing in RGB’s accomplishments, people are making threats across the country that they will “burn it down” if Trump nominates a replacement for Ginsburg.
Some “leaders” are even making threats of impeachment just to stop the President from making an appointment, which he has the power to do by the Constitution.
Regarding the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice. I thought it was wrong when the Republicans held up Obama’s selection to replace Justice Antonin Scalia in March 2016. They say let the people decide the election.
The people did decide and last I checked a president serves for four years. Work does not stop for a president because of campaigning or a new election.
RBG agreed. In an interview in July 2016 with the New York Times, Ginsburg said, “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the President stops being president in his last year.”
I realize the implications in the Court, but we either allow a president to serve a full four years or we don’t. What we should not do is change our mind and try and clarify that it was because the president was not running for re-election so this time is different; or because a certain party had control of the Senate.
It is not different. A Supreme Court Justice passed away. A president is near the end of a term (this time is it potentially the first of two terms). Last time there was several months before the election. This time there is barely two months before the election.
Either way, Justice Ginsburg passed away while Trump is president. The president, according to the Constitution, is given the “power” to nominate judges to the Supreme Court.
President Obama should have been allowed to nominate his justice, which he did, and the Senate should have taken up a vote, which, sadly they did not.
You see the Constitution does not say if a certain party has the majority in the Senate or if the same party is in charge of the White House as the Senate then the president can nominate a Supreme Court justice.
The Constitution states the president has the power to do so – there are no caveats to that power nor should there be. The Constitution also does not mention anything about following the wishes of the outgoing justice.
Sadly the battle over the Supreme Court is not the only issue shown with lack of leadership.
And this past week or so, it was not just Ginsburg’s passing that showed lack of leadership recently.
Sen. Kamala Harris, and vice presidential nominee and California Governor Gavin Newsom recently visited an area where the West wildfires have destroyed homes. There were many social media photo opportunities, comments about climate change. But, according to the family, they were trespassing, on their home, walking through burned up memories – when the family had not even been allowed back in to see what, if anything was left.
The move toward politics right away after the death of Ginsburg, and after fires, and during hurricanes and other natural disasters, makes me wonder — if 9/11 happened today would the reaction be much different than it was on 9/12/2001. I believe it would and that in and of itself is a tragedy.
The popular phrase for COVID is “new normal.” I guess putting politics over Constitution, over people’s rights, thoughts and feelings, is sadly our “new normal.”