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Ginsburg Left a Fiercely Liberal Legacy but Set an Example by Resisting Bitter Partisanship

09-18-2020
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In this Feb. 6, 2017 file photo, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the best known of all the Supreme Court justices in recent years, was famous even before she became a justice. For years, she'd fought on the legal front for the cause of equal treatment for women, especially in the workplace. Long before she served on the Supreme Court, she argued half-a-dozen cases over gender discrimination before the Court, winning most of them.
 
Married with children, she was known as a particularly hard-working lawyer, becoming a prime example of a modern woman who "could have it all" – success and accomplishment on both the home front and in the workplace.
 
Worked for Years with the ACLU
 
She became a law professor after getting her own law degree but kept working actual cases, often in league with the American Civil Liberties Union.  She eventually ended up working there, solidifying her reputation as a fighter for liberal causes.
 
Ginsburg became a judge when Democratic President Jimmy Carter put her on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, often seen as the second most important court in the country because so many national issues land there as cases.  
 
That's where she was until Democratic President Bill Clinton nominated her to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993. She then became just the second woman to serve there as a justice.
 
That became much less of a rarity in the 2000s when she ended up judging alongside two other women, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
 
Defender of Abortion
 
She was definitely seen as part of the liberal-leaning side of the Court, and she became a more fierce debater for that side of issues in the last few years.
 
Ginsburg definitely came down on the side of so-called abortion rights.  She said the government should have no say in whether or not a woman would get the procedure and she opposed restrictions on abortion that would come before the high court.
 
She did express regret, though, that the Supreme Court had decided to legalize abortion nationwide in 1973. She believed that the people and legislatures in many states on their own would have decided to legalize abortion, and they may have kept it from becoming one of the most contentious and persistent issues plaguing the nation. 
 
Didn't Want Trump Replacing Her
 
As she aged and health problems began to plague her, she became known for her rigorous health regimen and lengthy workouts. That's often credited with what allowed her to battle through two decades of severe threats to her health, including several bouts of cancer.
 
Less than seven weeks from a crucial presidential election, the time of her death appears to have defied her own number one desire. National Public Radio reports just a few days ago, she sent a message to her granddaughter that said, "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

Stood Against Bitter Partisanship
 
Though known as a fierce partisan when it came to the issues, Ginsburg had shown by example partisanship didn't have to get personal. Her very best friend on the high court was its most conservative member, Antonin Scalia. Until his death in 2016, they both shared a love of opera and often attended operatic performances together.
 
She'd also expressed a distaste for how nasty Supreme Court confirmations have become, especially after witnessing the toxic process Justice Brett Kavanaugh was dragged through.
 
Her feelings about that are likely to be mostly ignored, though, as what's about to happen over picking her replacement this close to a crucial presidential election could well mean political fireworks even more fierce and partisan than what happened with Kavanaugh.

Trump to Pick a Replacement
 
President Trump is sure to nominate a replacement. Democrats have already been saying Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has to treat that nomination like he did President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Scalia in 2016.   McConnell refused to act on confirming Garland so close to a presidential election.    
 
But McConnell insists he wouldn't do that because one party held the White House and another the Senate. He says when both the president and Senate are controlled by the same party, as is the case now, he'll act to confirm.   
 
Furious Democrats are almost certain to then launch into Trump's nominee with all barrels firing. And they'll certainly do their darndest to derail that nomination in hopes that Democrat Joe Biden will win the presidential election and pick a nominee much more to their liking. 
 
Meanwhile, Ginsburg may go down in history as one of the few Supreme Court justices to grow so famous, she had somewhat of a cult following. In public appearances, she would be greeted by fans who acted almost as if they were back in the wildest days of Beatlemania. She'd been dubbed the Notorious R.B.G. in recent years and even had a documentary named RBG made about her in 2018.

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