Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s premature death is the beginning of the end of America as we know it. She will forever be known as the “best and most principled judge the Supreme Court has ever had.” She was appointed to the Court by President John F. Kennedy on March 26, 1993, amidst high expectations that her only “Superman” confirmation would reignite the story of the judicial role in our nation’s history.
Ginsburg was born on February 24, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised and educated in Queens. Her parents left as young women to become successful Jewish immigrants, eventually bringing Ruth to America. She moved to the Bronx, and completed her undergraduate studies at the City College of New York, and subsequently the University of California, Los Angeles. She began law school in 1950 at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, then had her law degree from Columbia University in 1961. She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from Columbia University in 1965 and 1967, respectively. She was admitted to the Supreme Court in 1969, and, of course, from 1989 through today.When Ronald Reagan became President of the United States, the nation had an overwhelming feeling that the Chief Justice, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, would become the next Supreme Court Chief Justice. David Souter, in his 2015 book The President’s Choice: The Man and His Library, writes, “President Reagan knew in the first week of November 1984 that there would not be a laborious nomination process [to succeed James Buchanan].” Souter continued: “According to the stories I have read, Reagan had a serious deal with the Judicial Council, which held an annual meeting after the State of the Union Address, to work quickly through all the possibilities of his prospective Chief Justice nominee. So much for the way the democratic system works.”
On January 20, 1985, President Reagan appointed Justice John Paul Stevens to replace Justice Scalia, and then 12 months later, he received a second nomination, this time for Associate Justice. Stevens would serve for 12 years. According to USA Today, during Stevens’ tenure, the Judiciary Committee made a number of amendments to the Federal Arbitration Act, according to Irving Holden, principal deputy associate attorney general. In 1997, the Committee issued a directive for Justice Ginsburg to be forced to appear before them.
While Stevens was not appointed to the Supreme Court, he would be the third justice to be confirmed without question. In May 1987, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was confirmed. In November 2004, Justice John Paul Stevens, was confirmed by the Senate. In May 2012, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom a 1976 graduate of Queens Law School, would take over the Supreme Court position.
When John Paul Stevens went down to surgery for cancer in August 2012, we should have been able to conclude that it was a politically crafted affair. Instead, our country has witnessed an ascension of a Supreme Court Chief Justice that we have never seen before.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing will leave a void in the Court. It is going to be extremely hard for Ginsburg to lift her robe again. We believe that she will also bring a fresh new approach to our judicial system. Ginsburg will be remembered for her courage, her dedication, and her intellect. It is truly sad that her life is over.