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GOODBYE, RUTH

September 18, 2020


We've lost a superhero … and no, she will not be replaced.

It's 3:36 a.m. on September 19. The news that Ruth Bader Ginsberg has died won't sink in. I fell asleep and woke up again, about 15 minutes ago. I know what Trump and Mitch McConnell will do next. Every American knows. They'll honor that great lady's death with a betrayal.


Of course they will.


I have a new book-editing gig and a few hours ago (around 8:30 — technically, yesterday night) I was emailing the Chapter Three rewrite to my client. Right before I clicked "Send," my phone starting shooting out messages.


"Ruth Bader Ginsberg just died" — I heard myself say out loud, "No. No. Oh God no."


In a year full of calamity, here's another.


The fates couldn't have spared us this, at least???



Found on EmilyVPCreates, etsy.com


Throughout Trump's presidency, RBG has been the only justice standing between us and much of what we consider democracy. By "we" I mean the majority of the American public. And yes, "majority rule" still IS one of the principles of democracy -- maybe even its first and most important one. As a government of the people, by the people, public sentiment is expressed through nuimbers: polls, petitions, demonstrations and yes, voting.


In 2020, majority rule has been so disregarded that it feels like a quaint relic from another era — say, in the 1880's, when women were told not to say "mercy!" or "good gracious" since those expressions were considered close to profanity. Seems incredible now, huh? Well, hopefully so will Trump's disregard of the will of the people — his, and his party's — in the not-too-distant future.


Beginning in 2015 when he announced his candidacy, Americans have been demonstrating in huge numbers against this President and his policies, or maybe I should say whims. Or revenge schemes. Or thievery of the public coffers, or any one of the myriad offenses and crimes committed by someone who allegedly "won" the office but was more likely, it seems now, oiled into it by Russia, with his enthusiastic cooperation. Yes, the Electoral College helped, too. But a lot of people don't consider Trump the legitimate President because more keeps surfacing about foreign interference.


Since then it has been a staggering blow for most Americans to realize how frail we are under the fist of a would-be dictator who believes rules and laws are for breaking. Unless of course he goes on the offensive, calling for investigations into everyone who doesn't agree with him, and tying up the courts with his countless legal assaults.


That's why one tiny 87-year-old judge, weighing less than 100 pounds, became a superhero to much of America.

Children's book by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley



A feminist and left-leaning justice, a rigorous scholar and unwavering champion of the Constitution, RBG served in numerous trailblazing roles throughout her career, including as Director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1970s.


During her tenure on the Supreme Court, where she was dubbed "the Thurgood Marshall of the women's rights movement, she frequently served as the dissenting voice in opinions like the 1996 gender discrimination case involving the Virgina Military Institute. As a result of that landmark decision, as well as many other notable decisions, Ginsberg became a mentor, inspiration and role model for generations of American women (and men).



During her years as a law professor at Harvard.



A mentor for young women.




An actual tattoo (wearer unknown) of the iconic RGB lace collar!


In her 27 years on the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsberg provided ardent representation of American progressive values, serving as a formidable counter-weight to staunch conservatives on the bench, in the White House and in Congress. Among my friends and me, she was nothing less than a cultural and intellectual icon. Not only was she super smart, fair, discerning articulate, and reasonable (you'd think those would be characteristics of ALL Supreme Court justices, wouldn't you?), she modeled one trait in very short supply these last 4 years: collegial conduct. Meaning, she got along with conservative colleagues as well as liberal ones.



RBG in Courtroom by Art Lien|notoriousrbg via Instagram


Just the second woman ever appointed to the Supreme Court, Ginsberg showed all of us, on the left and the right, what it meant to be true to the Constitution and to represent the will of the majority of the people.


As most people know, RGB didn't like Trump. She once let slip her assessment of him as a "faker," and famously said, "I don't like to think about Trump as President." Yeah, me neither.


Like many people in "blue states" (blue doesn't begin to cover it this weekend), I have literally felt sick with dread since Friday night. I can't eat. I dreamt last night about Ruth's death — that great lady who spawned so many memes, sayings, merchandise: "You can't spell 'truth' without 'Ruth'."




I know the Trump administration will not be kind or fair. It never is. The Senate under Mitch McConnell refused to hold a hearing for, or even meet with, Obama's nominee Merritt Garland in 2016, the last time a Supreme Court seat became vacant. They explained in February of that year that they couldn't fill it so close to an election. We are now in an election MONTH: in some states, early voting is already underway.


But that won't stop the GOP. They won't adhere to their own made-up rule. They won't. They won't consider us, the majority, and with Trump ever on their side, regardless of fairness, they will be able to strong-arm us in this as in everything else.


"My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," was the last sentence Ruth Bader Ginsberg spoke.


There's no doubt in my mind at all that this despicable President and his mignons will disregard that with ease.


UPDATE: Less than 24 hours after Ruth Bader Ginsberg's death, Trump announced that her seat would be filled by him before the election: "I think it's going to go very quickly, actually."



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