The passing of hugely respected and revered U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday leaves an iconic legacy of personal achievement, professional jurisprudence and inspiring championship of gender, racial and ethnic equity.
The Justice Ginsburg passing also opens a previously progressively interpretive SCOTUS vacancy to potentially be filled with a more originalist constitutional scholar whose judgments will hold fast to compliance with what our nation's founding document actually says.
Fiercely polarized liberal versus conservatively-oriented contentions over which guiding philosophy will prevail in determining Justice Ginsburg's replacement fuels an already frenetic and rancorous presidential and congressional election campaign season amidst partisan charges and countercharges concerning responses to a viral health pandemic and violent urban mayhem.
Accordingly, the central importance of the SCOTUS replacement timing and selection represents "ground zero" in a political war that may very likely influence voter turnout and results for both sides. More than that, it will most certainly and eternally impact the future of America's governance.
Justice Ginsburg's passing at age 87 following multiple bouts with cancer are mourned but not entirely surprising. Concern over her chronic health problems prompted then- President Obama to urge her to retire – presumably in order to allow him to select and seat an ideologically-aligned successor. She refused the "offer."
Just hours after Justice Ginsburg's death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promised to put a Trump nominee up for a vote before November. That position was soon reiterated by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who said it was "critical" that the Senate confirm a replacement for Ginsburg before the election because it was "why Donald Trump was elected."
Cruz emphasized that it was particularly important that the Ginsburg vacancy be filled before the election to avoid a potential split decision impasse over resolving a contested election result. Speaking on Fox News, he warned that a divided 4-4 Supreme Court "cannot decide anything," and under that scenario, "I think we risk a constitutional crisis."
Such a decisive standoff dilemma is hardly a remote prospect. On August 26, anticipating a delayed presidential election outcome, Hillary Clinton said, "Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances, because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually I do believe he will win if we don't give an inch, and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is."
Clinton's statement during an interview with her former communications director Jennifer Palmieri for Showtime's "The Circus," comes at a time of contentious Republican versus Democrat legal battles over unsolicited mass mail-in voting.
Conservatives typically view the liberal COVID-lockdown argument primarily as a ruse to counter their far more energized in-person voting turnout, enable widespread tabulation fraud and ballot harvesting, and intentionally and interminably delay winner results in the event Trump is reelected.
Conspicuously active lawyering-up of Democrat litigants offers strong evidence that such concerns are warranted.
Seating constitutionally originalist Supreme Court vacancy replacements is a top conservative voting priority among those who have witnessed a growing trend of progressive judicial activist rulings regarding many issues they care most about. Key among these are right to life, immigration, Second Amendment protections, preserving the Electoral College, and now most immediately urgent, securing election integrity.
President Trump has made it clear that he intends to move quickly to nominate a Ginsburg replacement. Among the candidates, Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett is among those believed to be a frontrunner.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted, "We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court justices."
In another tweet, Trump thanked former Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, for in 2013, abolishing the requirement for presidential appointees to receive 60 votes for confirmation. In 2017, Senate Majority Leader McConnell extended the policy to Supreme Court nominees.
Unsurprisingly, with the election about a month and a half away, the plan to move forward on a pre-election Ginsburg seat replacement vote has triggered immediate and vociferous Democrat backlash.
Presidential candidate Biden told reporters on Friday, "Just so there is no doubt, let me be clear: The voters should pick a president, and that president should pick the justices for the Senate to consider."
Referring to the Republican-controlled Senate's refusal to confirm his nominee to replace the late originalist Justice Antonin Scalia, Obama said late last Friday: "Four and a half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn't fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in."
Subsequently and unexpectedly, Donald Trump was elected, nominating Neil Gorsuch who was then confirmed.
Sen. McConnell drew a distinction between the current scenario and the Merrick Garland precedent in 2016 when the Senate was controlled by Republicans and a Democrat president nominated him in an election year. Now, both the Senate and the presidency, are controlled by Republicans.
Here's a non-trick question. What would you suppose a Biden administration and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would choose to do if the tables were turned?
Schumer told congressional Democrats on a Saturday conference call that "nothing is off the table next year" if McConnell and his Republican allies move to fill Justice Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat in the coming weeks.
Schumer's comments come amid previous calls from fellow Democrats, including Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y. and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., to abolish the filibuster and expand the number of Supreme Court judges to counteract the appointment if they regain control of the presidency and Senate.
It's also no secret that the Democrats will push statehood status for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to add progressive Electoral College advantages.
In any case, it's very iffy whether McConnell can muster a simple majority of GOP senators to pass a successful pre-election vote, or even then, whether that can be accomplished before November 3.
If necessary, however, Vice President Pence, as Constitutionally authorized ex efficio president of the Senate, could act as a voting tie-breaker.
And in a delayed post-election vote, even if Republicans were to lose control of either or both the White House and Senate, the senators will still have until January 3 to confirm Trump's nominee.
By all odds, an unresolved pre-election SCOTUS nominee confirmation will disproportionately amp up Republican voter turnout. Democrats should also be counselled that viciously ugly attacks of the sort hurled in Justice Bret Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings will deeply offend many independent-minded voters as well. Assaults on a for-certain female nominee will be regarded as especially disgusting.
Democrats are advised to additionally consider that intentionally delayed and contested election results through mail-in ballot vetting and tabulation litigation will be a very misguided strategy to build long-term public confidence in progressive party policies leading into another congressional election cycle two years hence. Such actions will only incite more episodes of street violence, looting and property destruction that have come to plague and brand many Democrat-run cities.
So yes, the outcome the battle over Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement seat will be enormously bloody and consequential to the future of our American republic. The results will forever significantly influence elections of presidents, legislatures and fundamental Constitutional interpretations.
This is a dangerous, inevitable and incalculably important war. And it is one well worth fighting.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. Larry has written more than 700 articles for Newsmax and Forbes and is the author of several books. Included are: "How Everything Happened, Including Us" (2020), "Cyberwarfare: Targeting America, Our Infrastructure and Our Future" (2020), "The Weaponization of AI and the Internet: How Global Networks of Infotech Overlords are Expanding Their Control Over Our Lives" (2019), "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity" (2019), "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful" (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2011). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.
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