Chelsea Clinton: Amy Coney Barrett Does Not Deserve RBG’s Seat

I don’t remember where I was when my dad nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, but I do remember how I felt: very excited and a little surprised.

This was 1993. I was thirteen years old. In elementary school, I had learned about Sandra Day O’Connor, who had been confirmed twelve years earlier as the first woman justice of the Supreme Court. But until Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I didn’t realize so many years had passed without there being a second.

I was like this as a kid. I believed the world was fairer than it was. Which is why I admired Justice Ginsburg so much: She was the rare adult who made our country live up to a child’s inherent sense of fairness.

Justice Ginsburg served on the court for 27 years. She wrote 483 opinions, many of which were intent on making every American who felt excluded—women in particular—belong. “It shouldn’t be that women are the exception,” she once said. “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”

Because of her work, not only as a Justice but also as a lawyer, you cannot be fired for being pregnant, or denied a credit card or a spot in a public university because of your sex, or rejected for a marriage license because of who you love. She was a 5’1 legal giant. Who could possibly replace her?

One of the final cases Justice Ginsburg heard was about birth control. The Trump Administration had a new regulation that would roll back coverage for contraception—it was a bad rule, which Justice Ginsburg argued against. But she lost, and countless women lost with her. The president got what he wanted.

If President Trump succeeds in placing Amy Coney Barrett as Justice Ginsburg’s successor, I expect that he will get even more of what he wants—with disastrous consequences for the country.

RBG was the rare adult who made our country live up to a child’s inherent sense of fairness.

The United States is suffering through the greatest health crisis in a century. More than 200,000 people have died from the coronavirus, and the president wants to rip health coverage away from millions of Americans by shredding the Affordable Care Act and taking away protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Another vote on the court would likely allow him to do it, given that his nominee has been critical of the law and previous decisions to uphold it. That case is set to be heard the week after the election, and a decision is expected next June.

Wildfires rage across the West. The sky is the wrong color. Children can’t play outside. People are now wearing masks to protect against COVID-19 and smoke. And the president still wants to let polluters emit carbon in the air and toxic chemicals in the water. With another Trump-appointed justice, the court would likely allow that, too.

Then, of course, there is the right to choose, a right that has hung on by the thinnest of legal threads. One Supreme Court vote could be enough to snap it. Although she doesn’t have a long judicial record, Amy Coney Barrett has voted in two abortion cases—both times in favor of abortion restrictions that would require parental notification and allow the state to ban the procedure on the basis of race, sex, or Down syndrome diagnosis.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not have a perfect record of wins on the court. Far from it. Of her 483 opinions, many were losses like the birth control case. But when Justice Ginsburg lost, she went down swinging, arguing with fierce intellect about why the majority was wrong so that one day, some judge, far in the future, might dust off her opinion and make things right. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was “The Great Dissenter.”

Now it is our turn to dissent against Trump’s choice for Ginsburg’s replacement and against the rush to confirm her before Election Day.

The election is just six weeks away and the voters will pick the president. That president should be the one to pick Justice Ginsburg’s successor, a precedent that Republicans themselves set in 2016 when Justice Scalia died during an election year. There is no logic that can possibly square the circle of reversing that stance—except, of course, the logic of pure political gamesmanship. Many of President Trump’s supporters have left any other kind of logic behind.

There are two things we can do to stop this: speak up and vote.

Justice Ginsburg spent her entire life fighting to give women an equal voice in this country’s affairs.

Use it.

RBG spent her entire life fighting to give women an equal voice in this country’s affairs. Use it.

Tell your friends and family why the future of the Supreme Court, and this election, are personal issues for you to ensure that they vote, too.

We must make sure that President Trump isn’t president for much longer. We need to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be our next president and vice president. If you aren’t registered—or you aren’t sure—visit iwillvote.com right now and find out. Not later. Right now. Make a plan today to vote early, in person, or by mail. Not tomorrow. Today.

“It is my most fervent wish,” Justice Ginsburg said as she was dying, “that my successor will not be named until a new president is installed.”

She knew better than anyone that wishes and hopes are not self-executing. They do not become reality without the fierce advocacy of committed people. To protect her legacy—and the better, fairer America she created with it—we must say with our voices and votes what she wrote so many times:

I dissent.

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