Less than 24 hours after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the battle lines are already being drawn over her replacement.
With President Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate poised to seize the narrow window of time before Election Day, Democrats are vowing a fight, demanding that the seat be left vacant until after the election when they might have the chance to pick her replacement.
A top Senate Democrat, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), is even vowing to take steps to pack the Supreme Court with extra liberal justices after the election if Democrats win the White House and the Senate. For the time being, the election has taken a dramatic shift and will now be heavily focused on the battle over the Supreme Court.
'Definitely a Loss & the End of an Era'
Ashley Baker works on the judicial nomination process at the Committee for Justice in Washington, DC, and said after Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, "This is a tremendous loss for the Court. She was on the Supreme Court for 27 years, and she had a remarkable career."
Some political pundits say Ginsburg has done more for women's rights in the second half of the 20th century than almost any other American. Baker said, "As both a woman and an attorney, she reached a high point and she was really well-respected by her colleagues and really made her mark."
Speaking as one of the constitutional traditionalists in DC, Baker said of Ginsburg, "She did have a very different view of the Constitution than we do. And there were some very strong disagreements on issues such as abortion."
But even though a liberal firebrand, Ginsburg maintained good friendships with conservatives.
"She was very close friends with Justice Scalia," Baker stated. "Justice Thomas thought highly of her. Justice Scalia said that her feedback made each of them a little bit better. So I think they had a constructive relationship. She was thought highly of, and her position on the Court was mutually beneficial in that way. But she certainly made some decisions that we as conservatives didn't agree with."
'Just as Crazy as Kavanaugh's'
Baker worked on the confirmations of both Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Does she think the confirmation process in the Senate for Ginsburg's replacement could turn out as fiery and wild as Kavanaugh's?
"Things are already starting to get just as crazy as Kavanaugh's if I'm able to gauge things correctly," she said. "But it seems that it is certainly going in that direction. And I thought at the end of the Kavanaugh confirmation that certainly that was only kind of a test run for how crazy the next confirmation fight was going to be."
She continued, "One thing it proved was that no matter who the nominee would be, as long as President Trump nominated them, Democrats would do whatever necessary to obstruct their confirmation, whether that's lies or whatever tactics are necessary."
Doesn't Have to Be a Woman to Replace a Woman
As to the idea that Trump must nominate a woman because Ginsburg was a woman, Baker said, "Well, I don't think he has to replace a woman with a woman. As a woman, I don't really like that idea very much. I find that kind of a form of identity politics as well."
"When it comes to the whole concept of trying to match up a replacement with the person they're replacing," Baker commented, "I understand the idea to replace them with someone who somewhat matches their legacy, and that's what the thinking has been in the past. But I don't think that should at all be a requirement."
A major weapon used on Kavanaugh involved accusations – none were ever proven – that he had mistreated women in his younger years. Does Baker think a woman might face an easier time in the Senate confirmation process?
A Woman Won't Be Spared Harsh Treatment
"If it's a woman, just because it's a woman doesn't mean Democrats are going to handle the person with kid gloves," Baker insisted. "It's going to be exactly the same. The accusations, the arguments against them are just going to be very different than they were with Kavanaugh obviously."
Baker pointed out that Democrats insist they are the party that does the most for women and minorities. But she then cited several times women and minority nominees for judgeships who were of a more conservative bent faced extremely harsh treatment at the hands of Democrats in the confirmation process.
"And that's one of the broader ironies of liberal judicial nomination politics is that it ends up hurting those they claim to protect," Baker said. "And I think that's a really significant point here."
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