NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death imparts a sense of loss and apprehension in many people.

On Sept.18, 2020 the nation suffered the loss of long time Justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away due to complications from pancreatic cancer. Even before her appointment to the Supreme Court in 1993, Justice Ginsberg was a well-known advocate for gender equality and women’s rights, voting within the court to end gender discrimination, for women’s rights to body autonomy, and for the right for LGBTQ+ individuals to marry.

Upon hearing the news of her death, many people across the nation shared their fears that Justice Ginsberg’s legacy would be destroyed by the clear division of the nation, and a last-minute appointment before election day.

Darlene Hurley, the daughter of two NECC graduates, a Public Health Advisor and Healthcare Consultant, who met with Justice Ginsberg and attended multiple Supreme Court hearings said, “I think RBG’s death is a tremendous loss for all women in America. I think that RBG knew that it was important for women to have the ultimate say over their own bodies, and not the government, policy, or law.”  Regarding the nomination of a conservative Republican Justice before election day, she said “ I think that the possible replacement that is being put forth as President Trump’s nominee may very well change the landscape of a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body. I do fear that because of that, we may backslide into a time where women with lower socioeconomic status may be most affected.”

On Sept. 26, eight days after Justice Ginsburg’s death, President Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Since President Trump’s announcement of nomination, there has been backlash from Democratic party members and members of the public, all saying that the nomination is too close to the election.

Shane Rodriguez, a local attorney, and a professor at the Massachusetts School of Law, said “I have been following the Barrett nomination, and the rushing through of her confirmation, and I think that Barrett is the polar opposite of Ginsburg and her legacy. She opposes almost everything that Ginsburg believed in, and would significantly set back women’s rights, and LGBTQ+ rights.” On Barrett’s conservative stance and her lack of impartiality, he said “ She strongly opposes, and even goes on the record to say that she supports the recriminalization of homosexuality, as well as taking financial donations and supporting Alliance Defending Freedom, a group that supports the sterilization of transgender individuals so that they may not reproduce. She often brings her religion into her judicial decisions and because of her devout Catholicism and her conservative nature, she would very likely vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, which would get rid of a woman’s right to an abortion under any circumstance. She completely dismisses the separation of Church and State, and that is a danger to our democracy.”

In 2016, when Justice Antonin Scalia died, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland nine months before the election. Members of the Republican party said at that time that it was too close to the election to nominate and confirm a new Justice, and that the newly elected President should nominate the replacement. Now, the Republican party is saying the exact opposite, that an acting President is well within their right to nominate someone no matter how close it is to the election.  Joe Woods, an NECC alumnus, who attended Supreme Court hearings and got to see Justice Ginsburg in action in the late 90’s, said “I think that a Trump appointment of a replacement severely jeopardizes all of the gains made in women’s rights, as well as LGBTQ+ rights. Unfortunately, the President is within his legal right to make an appointment, though, when the Democratic party held the presidency in similar circumstances, the Republican party position stated that it was unfair to make an appointment so close to the election. Even though the Republican Party’s emblem is an elephant, the present Republican party seems to have a short memory, as they currently espouse a totally hypocritical stance.”