Disorder In The Court
It has been roughly 80 hours since we received a phone call from one of our daughters telling us about the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We were away for a few days, happy to be masked up and holding hands, sauntering down the quiet, peaceful streets of old Sante Fe. Suddenly nothing felt peaceful anymore. We both stopped on the sidewalk and, heads down, were online in a heartbeat.
Glancing up as we walked, we were not the only ones glued to the information ether looking for details. So many heads down…
In the hours that have passed since finding out, I have gone through many of the grief stages already.
Denial — it was immediate. No, no, nononononononononono. Like everyone else, I knew how old she was, I knew the health battles of late, but the woman has always been a phenomenal life force. 5 foot 1 inch, yet larger than life. Thinking of her in simple, human terms is difficult. Thinking of how she battled for this nation — I cannot believe she is gone.
Anger — That came swiftly as the despicable, predictable GOP began making their glee known. Anger at the hypocrisy. Anger at the fact the news was still breaking yet they were dancing on a grave. Anger because of everything her death telegraphs for our future, for the future of minorities, women, LGBTQIA, DACA, DREAMers, the disabled, the ACA, Roe v Wade, and on and on.
Bargaining — I don’t know what I believe in in terms of what comes next. Nothing can be proved, no one can prove a negative, but I found myself fervently wishing that there is something, some next stage to which that incredible woman has passed. Energy like that cannot just cease.
Depression — As if the collective anxiety and depression and unease we have all been physically laboring beneath were not enough, this was an emotional body blow. On so many levels. RBG was a heroine for me, and for so many. She was a leader, a pantheon of strength and character. Diminutive in stature, almost precious in her white lace collar, but woe betide anyone who took those traits to mean pushover. She was the absolute best of what a woman is, can be, can achieve. She embodied grace, wit, intellect, compassion, and a deep, DEEP love of country and our laws. Yes, I feel heavy, depressed, so very sad.
Acceptance — That last stage of grieving is not going to come easy. I am Irish, I am belligerent, I am hard headed, and I hate when something awful happens and cannot ever unhappen. I have grown enough to finally know that screaming at the wall will never move the wall, but in my private moments, there are still walls that pay the price for things I cannot change in my life.
What I do accept is that our fight does not stop with her death, with her lying in repose in the Supreme Court this week, with her burial. What I do accept is that we are living through unprecedented times, with unprecedented behavior by the opposing party. What I do accept is that the words ‘Merrick Garland’ are meaningless to the corrupt, power hungry criminals in the majority. What I do accept is that hypocrisy is the air they breathe.
What I do accept is that in a 3–6 country, we are about to have a 6–3 Supreme Court and everything that portends. That does not mean I give up. It means I accept the reality of the cretins we are up against and the actual power they currently, legally have to act.
I also accept that the Notorious RBG led the way, showed the strength, defined will and honor and hope.
Her mother, whom Ruth called “the most intelligent person I had ever known” instilled in RBG a deep, abiding love of learning, of equality, of the need to find and use your voice. That her gender did not make her less than a man. Her mother, so smart, went to work at age 15 so that her family could put her brother through college. Being a girl, Celia was viewed as being lesser, having no need to advance her education.
When RBG was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1993, she ended her press remarks this way, “I have a last thank-you. It’s to my mother. My mother was the bravest, strongest person I have ever known, who was taken from me much too soon. I pray that I may be all that she would have been had she lived in an age when women could aspire and achieve and daughters are cherished as much as sons.”
I daresay she made her mother proud. She blazed a trail through her schooling and when she was at Harvard Law — only 1 of 9 women, mind you, never forgot the dinner party at which the dean made the woman go around the table and each had to speak to justify why they were there taking the place of a man. Ahh, 1956. There were 552 men enrolled with her, but I guess that wasn’t enough? Because of her intellect, acumen, and unapologetic attendance in their ranks, she was nicknamed a “bitch” by the male classmates. Her wry reply to finding that out?
“Better bitch than mouse.”
She persevered through the years juggling family, studies, and a university where women were not even allowed in the law library. She was also one of the first women to serve on the Harvard Law Review journal. She did not complete her years at Harvard, however, as she transferred to Columbia when her husband took a position in New York. She would go on to be first in her class.
Which meant little as she struggled to find employment — again, we wimmin folk were still persona non grata in so many places.
She finally got her foot in the door with a low level clerk position and slowly began her climb. Through the years she was a pioneer in gender equality issues — arguing before the Supreme Court six times, winning five. in 2011, Harvard awarded her an honorary degree, and in 2015 she received their Radcliffe Medal signifying she was someone who had transformed society.
I have long looked at her life, how she lived it, navigated demands, juggled family, career. If we are each born an empty vessel, RBG filled hers to overflowing by the time she passed. She learned, she taught, she parented two children, she was a dedicated spouse in a marriage where there was always equality. She supported him, he supported her. Shortly before his death, Marty, an accomplished lawyer in his own right, said, “I think the most important thing I have done is enable Ruth to do what she has done.”
That is a husband.
Just as forced sterilizations at an ICE facility have been making headlines, it is notable to remember how long this type of thing has been being perpetrated, and fought. I wrote last week about how there were laws allowing it for decades — to thin the herd, strengthen the gene pool, and diminish a population based on race. RBG, when she was the Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights project, fought in front of the Supreme Court on behalf of a Black woman who had been operated on as a teenager through the eugenics program in North Carolina. It allowed for forced sterilizations for “mentally defective” persons. There is zero documentation to support the assertion that Nial Ruth Cox was mentally disabled in any way. She had been found to be pregnant and as such her mother was told by the county her daughter was immoral, and unless she agreed to have her sterilized they would cut off benefits for the younger children. They were told repeatedly the procedure was reversible and that Nial would be able to have children in the future.
She found out later in her life that was completely untrue. Unable to have children, her fiance’ left her, and as she was a single Black woman, she was denied adoption rights. The ACLU took her case — that was in the 70s, that is how long this has been going on, that is how long RBG has been a fighter for women.
Once on the SC, she enjoyed working with Sandra Day O’Connor — very like minded women. She has said that the period between O’Connor’s retirement and the seating of Sonia Sotomayor were disconcerting. “The image to the public entering the courtroom was eight men, of a certain size, and then this little woman, sitting off to the side. That was not a good image for the public to see.”
I especially loved her oft repeated reply when asked at what point there would be “enough women” on the Court. She always replied “when there are nine … [There’d] been nine men, and no one’s ever raised a question about that.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg knew what we could be. She saw the potential not only in women, but in all of us, in this country. She understood the towering role of jurisprudence in this nation and how it must be equally applied. She never stopped working towards that.
Perhaps it is best to say, she never stopped working.
The public has been privvy to her ins and outs from hospitals in the past year. Each time Twitter erupted with those of us volunteering as tribute — “Take my lung!” “You can have my pancreas!” I don’t need my life, you can have it, Ruth!” We held our breath, said our prayers if we pray, sent good thoughts to the universe, and only exhaled when word came that she was home, resting comfortably, yet still firmly holding her spot on the Court.
In terms of this election and the gargantuan import it has, she has been likened to the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. She has been standing, all 5'1" of her, between us and the complete downfall of this nation at the hands of the Trump cabal. On the Court hers was a voice of strength and probity and measure, and equality for all.
Her last wish, transcripted for her by her grand daughter was, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Of course, it took only 24 hours for Adderall von Unindictedco-Conspirator to call it a lie. That a Democrat wrote it. Maybe Adam Schiff. That is the power RBG had, still has. Trump is a weak man, always has been. He is shaken by any woman who is uncowed in his presence, unimpressed with his contour skills, and unimpeachable in her own dignity, self esteem, self worth.
He knows how much money Dems have raised in the hours since her passing — over $100 million in 48 hours. He knows exactly how beloved she was/is. He knows he is not man enough, human being enough, to wash her robe.
So he will do what he does to all who intimidate him, who refuse to bow to him, who are smarter than him — he will defile their memory, he will refuse them honor, decency, acknowledgment. And in the case of RBG, he will move with all haste to nominate someone diametrically opposed to all she stood for, lived for, died for. A powerful woman to be replaced by a subservient one. A guardian of democracy by a doormat.
And the Republican majority in the Senate are in lockstep. Pointing out their hypocrisy — Merrick Garland, anyone? — is meaningless. They don’t care how they appear, how their words from 2016 completely contradict their words now. They are corrupt, power desperate despots who only care about installing another uber conservative judge who will tilt the court towards Handmaids Tale territory.
Political performance artists like Mitt Romney have acted their parts. He marched with Black Lives Matter and now publicly promised his vote to Trump, a vote that will endanger the rights of all of us to gather, to protest. In the final wash, all that matters to them is Roe v Wade. Their obsession with the absolute intrusion into a woman’s right to choose is what drives them. They will then come for the Affordable Care Act in toto, decimating the lives of millions upon millions who will find themselves stripped of insurance, millions upon millions more who will be suddenly uninsurable because of pre-existing conditions. Like COVID.
You do know that will be a pre-existing condition now, right? If you have had it and come through fine, it is still going to haunt you forever. Heart attack? Lung cancer? Brain tumor? Ass polyps? All deniable because they can point at COVID.
These are lifetime appointments. You die or you retire. We are being set up for a lifetime of disorder in the court. Equality will be shown the door. LGBTQIA targeted in earnest and attacks backed by a court of religious zealots. Immigrants will be denied everything. A criminal president and all his equally criminal cronies will be guarded from harm or accountability. All the protections promised by the words of this country’s founding documents, by the amendments added since — gone. All for the chance to crawl up the uteri of the nation while clinging to a Bible and a gun.
That’s all that matters. Not accountability. Not criminality. Not protecting and defending the weak. Just another religious hack in a robe who thinks “God” is the answer to every question, and could not define “secular” if their life depended on it.
The sad thing is that our lives do depend on it.
We are still reeling from a pandemic, losing 1,000+ per day. We are deep in the 4th largest mass casualty event this country has ever experienced, usurped only by the Civil War, WWII, and the 1918 flu. We have a reality TV grifter flying all over the country holding rallies and talking about herd mentality — he is such buffet platter of ignorance, lard and venality.
Herd IMMUNITY requires that over SIX MILLION of us die. You cool with that? That number good? Remind you of anything, like, say THE HOLOCAUST? Or do they not teach you that in your Youtube Stupid as FuQ school?
We have no vaccine. We have no clear information as the CDC has now validated it is completely corrupted by this administration. 205,000 people have died. They have done nothing for this country beyond a one time stimulus of $1200 that many did not qualify for, and hand out billions in forgivable loans to their friends. People are dying, being evicted, millions are still out of work, millions thrown off their insurance by losing their jobs to this pandemic, yet nothing.
But they can move like their asses are exploding trees on fire to nominate and install a new SC justice. Want to explain that?
It is going to happen. It does not matter how much we scream and shout, how much House and Senate Dems try to stall, obfuscate, point out the hypocrisy of their colleagues, the predictable unsuitability of whoever gets pulled from Under His Eye and nominated. Republicans in the Senate have the votes they need to ignore every single one of us. In a 3–6 country, we are facing a 6–3 court — completely out of balance with the will of the people, the direction of the country.
They are out in force declaring they have a mandate from the people. WTAF? Their Sunkist succubus lost by three million votes. Senate Dems got 18 million more votes than Senate Republicans in 2018. House Democrats won by the largest midterm margin of victory in history. And Senate GOPers represent 15 million fewer constituents than Senate Dems.
Where’s the mandate, other than in their heads, their wallets, and in the vapid, slackjawed craniums of the maskless dullards who flock to Trump’s super spreader events? There is no mandate. There is only a powergrab. And it is one that will fundamentally change this nation forever.
The CIA tells us that Russia is again hard at work inside our election system. No one is blinking. Our mail system was completely hijacked from within, and no matter what the courts are saying, all of the changes and destruction cannot be undone. We are faced with unprecedented corruption from the Oval to the AG to the House Leader and every little minion in between. It is sickening. It is unthinkable. It is heartbreaking.
And all we have is our vote.
That is where my stage of Acceptance lies. I accept that our ability to vote in dramatic numbers is what stands between us and the dike finally crumbling and washing us away.
RBG knew that. She fought her entire life to give voice to the voiceless, strength to the powerless, hope to the hopeless. She stood strong for us as long as she could. But cancer had other plans. No one is coming to save us. We must save ourselves.
I know we are exhausted. We are bereft. We feel overwhelmed, which is how they want us to feel. But we can do this. We can channel a woman who fought colon cancer in 1999, surgery and all, and never missed a day on the bench. We can be inspired by an 87 year old woman who, for the last 20 years of her life, worked out with a trainer twice a week. We can find strength in the thought of a woman who was denied access to her college’s law library yet went on to kick the asses of all 582 men she schooled with. We can draw courage from a woman who fought cancer three times (1999, 2009, 2019), defeated heart issues and an operation in 2014, and worked through 3 fractured ribs in 2018.
I often whisper the words my mother drummed into me as a child, when faced with something daunting, something that seems too big — “There’s nothing to it, but to do it.” Ruth said something very similar.
“I spent no time fretting, and found a way to do what I thought important to get done.”
Let us not spend time fretting or fearing the work in front of us. It is important, it is vital to our survival to get it done. It is our turn to give voice to the voiceless, strength to the powerless, hope to the hopeless. There’s nothing to it, but to do it.
So do it in her honor, for Her Honor, the Notorious RBG.