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Ginsburg's Death Is A Major Cultural Moment That's About To Upend Politics Again

Sep 19, 2020
Originally published on September 19, 2020 1:30 pm

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a major cultural moment and has potential implications for the next generation of American society.

Just look at the images of people who crowded the Supreme Court's steps Friday night after news of her death broke.

The Supreme Court hasn't been this conservative in three-quarters of a century, and if President Trump nominates a replacement for her seat, and he or she is confirmed, it would move the court even further to the right and be difficult for liberals to take control of for a very long time.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is vowing to bring a Trump nominee to the Senate floor for a vote — despite his denial of even a hearing for then-President Barack Obama's 2016 Supreme Court nominee, with far more time to go until the election.

People lit candles and left flowers and notes on the steps of the court.
Tyrone Turner/WAMU

It's unclear when that vote would take place — either before the election or during a lame-duck session. And it's not clear if Republicans would have the votes to pass a nominee. It would almost certainly be close.

It's also not clear how — or if — this reshapes the calculus in any way for the 2020 election. It could fire up the GOP base, which cares a great deal about the court. And it could fire up Democrats, especially women, to go to the polls for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

But little has moved the needle in this election one way or the other, and those groups were already enthusiastic about voting.

A woman, mourning the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, holds a sign at the Supreme Court that reads, "when there are nine," something Ginsburg said to describe when there'd be enough women on the court.
Alex Edelman / AFP via Getty Images

So no one really knows how any of this is going to play out except to say that there is going to be some kind of fight over this seat.

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