EDITORIAL: The Role of a Supreme Court Justice

There is a sense of uneasiness when Republicans say they want to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat, left vacant by the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, with a “strict constructionist” of the U.S. Constitution. Republicans make it clear that they want to move post-haste to fill the seat before the Nov. 3 election with a conservative judge. Some hear instead the plan is to appoint a nominee that will issue decisions based on Republican traditional values and not Constitutional ethics.

Undoubtedly, Americans are well-served by having a guiding document that defines the principles of this nation to “establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” as written in its preamble. Over time, however, political ideology — conservative vs. liberal — has sparked intense debates over a strict interpretation of what the “Founding Fathers” meant rather than how their words and vision should be applied today.

Justice Ginsberg, respectfully referred to as Notorious RBG, was only the second woman to serve on the nation’s highest court. Her gender alone made her an anomaly related to her position on the Supreme Court, where she was labeled a moderate who fought vigorously for women’s rights, particularly for their right to equal pay. She has been labeled an originalist, meaning she believed the Constitutional framers gave the federal government broad powers to protect all persons in an inclusive democracy, and not to the states that often deny equal rights and protections under the law.

President Donald Trump and the Republican Party want to fill Justice Ginsberg’s seat immediately with an appointee that supports their political views including denial of a woman’s legal right to an abortion, declaring the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional and rejection of the District of Columbia’s hard-fought battle for Statehood, among other issues. Any justice who accepts the nomination and is sworn to serve on the nation’s highest court only to fulfill a political agenda can and must be impeached. The job is to interpret the Constitution and to apply the law. Voters must pay attention to a Supreme Court that could change America for a lifetime.


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