The death at 87 of United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has added another dimension to the final weeks of the Presidential election in that country. The liberal media’s pot stirring over possible legal challenges if the vote does not go their way has begun. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has already said that the President’s nomination will go to the Senate where the Republicans currently hold a majority.
Trump, when told of her passing, only hearing of the news following an end to a rally in Minnesota, referred to Ginsburg having led “… an amazing life.” And she certainly had, working her way up from Brooklyn through a legal system that was weighted against women. Some of the cases which she won prior to her elevation to the Supreme Court were genuine advances for equality before the law.
However, she will be mostly remembered in her role on the Supreme Court for having reinforced the liberal majority that has consistently defended and indeed sought to broaden the 1973 decision in Roe v Wade which legalised abortion throughout the United States on what many argue was a spurious interpretation of a “right to privacy” allegedly contained within the Fourteenth Amendment’s reference to “due process.”
Ginsburg was one of the dissenting minority on the Court which in 2007 upheld the 2003 Act which banned partial birth abortion. Ginzburg’s stance and the support of most Democrats in Congress for partial birth abortion proves that those who claimed that the supposed protections referred to in Roe v Wade regarding third trimester terminations are meaningless in the face of further liberal judicial and political attempts to do away with even the remaining minimal qualifications are correct.
While many Democrats are militantly pro abortion, right up to including partial birth abortion, Joe Biden’s record is like much of his record on most other key issues. From an initial position of stating back in the 1970s that he thought Roe v Wade had “gone too far,” he has supported, often in hindsight, every single move towards greater liberalisation. Despite his claim that “as a Catholic” he knows that life begins at conception he voted against a proposal to define a fetus as a child. There is nothing to suggest that he would not support partial birth abortion should that become an issue again.
Meanwhile, President Trump has the opportunity to appoint a judge who will decisively shift the balance on the Supreme Court to a coherent pro life majority. He has already appointed two conservative justices; Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. Bush appointee and Chief Justice John Roberts disappointed pro life advocates when he voted in June with the liberals on the Court to rule that a Louisiana law restricting abortion was unconstitutional.
Trump has already named a list of nominees, and coincidentally eulogised one of those, Senator Ted Cruz, at the Minnesota rally before he became aware of the vacancy that now exists. However, many people believe that the most likely person to succeed Ginsburg is Amy Coney Barrett, who was also on the short list in 2018.
Barrett is a Catholic from Louisiana who lives close to Notre Dame University. Her religion has already been a point of attack from the Democrats when she was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Trump in 2017. Barrett responded vigorously to the attack on her, and succeeded in winning the support of several Democrats in the vote on her appointment. Apart from her position on abortion, she has a formidable CV of academic publications and her age, she is 48, means that she could become one of the leading conservative voices on the Court for a considerable number of years at a time when there is a real prospect of rowing back on decades of liberal dominance.
All of this adds another dimension to the forthcoming election, and gives Trump the opportunity to set a real mark upon American society, even should the result in November go the wrong way.