Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, passed away in her home in Washington D.C. yesterday, 18 September, at the age of 87. Her death came as a result of complications due to metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Vigils were held throughout the United States, as condolences and tributes poured in throughout the days following her death. She was known for championing gender equality and has become a respected icon, even in pop culture. She is honoured as a trailblazer for women’s rights.
She was lovingly dubbed, by New York University law student Shana Knizhnik, “the Notorious RBG”, a reference to the famous rapper The Notorious B.I.G. The nickname and its pop culture status was embraced by Justice Ginsburg.
Justice Ginsburg and South Africa
Justice Ginsburg had a fondness for South Africa and its journey to freedom. In 2006, she and her husband visited the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
In 2012, she took some heat after an interview with an Egyptian TV channel. She stated that Egypt should be aided by Constitution-writing that has gone on since the end of World War II, and said: “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a Constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the Constitution of South Africa… That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary. … It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done. Much more recent than the U.S. Constitution.”
Political Debate on Appointment of the next Supreme Court Justice
In the days since her passing there has been much political debate around the appointment of the next Justice. According to her granddaughter, days before her death Justice Ginsburg stated “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
U.S Representative of New York’s 14th district, and Democratic Socialists of America member, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, stated in a video posted on social media “let this moment radicalize you. Let this moment really put everything into stark focus… If Mitch McConnell is not going to honour RBG’s final wish, we will… We will, and we have to…”
White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah stated in a Fox news interview “President Trump had already put out a list of potential names, ahead of the Justice’s passing, of people he would consider appointing to the bench,” she said that the list has been transparent and added “it is his priority to put a constitutional textualist on the bench and to fill the seat”. She further explained “whether we have a vote or not is really a question for the senate and for Leader McConnell, but it is fully this president’s intention to do his job under the Constitution and to appoint someone to this seat. And I would just know that this president is not looking at timelines in terms of the elections. He is looking at following through on promises he made to the American public.”