In the Suburbs: Ignoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dying wish and legacy

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sent shock waves through those of us across the country who respected her as a champion of women’s rights, gay marriage, the LGBT community, and supporters of Obamacare among other causes.

Justice Ginsburg, named in the title of a biography, “Notorious RBG,” was known as a major dissenter in so many controversial Supreme Court cases over her long career, earning the respect of young and old alike for her outspoken views.

After Justice Ginsburg’s death, we were very moved when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she would lie in state at the Capitol, the first woman accorded that honor. Like the similar honor given to the late Representative John Lewis, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was also deserving of that national recognition, having left her indelible mark on Supreme Court cases that the period of history in which she served.

In a biography filled with Ginsburg’s achievements, several major accomplishments stood out for me.

“In 1973, she argued her first case before the United States Supreme Court. After the American Civil Liberties Union referred a number of sex discrimination complaints to her, she founded the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. She became the project’s general counsel, as well as serving on the national board of the ACLU. At the time, she was writing the first textbook on sex discrimination law, ‘Text, Cases, and Materials on Sex-Based Discrimination,’ published in 1974.”

Prior to Justice Ginsburg’s death, she told her granddaughter that her dying wish was that no new justice be named until after the inauguration in January 2021.

At first, Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish was met with widespread bi-partisan support and accolades. But within hours of her death, President Trump said that he intended to fill Ginsburg’s spot with a woman and confirm his nominee before the upcoming election, now five weeks away.

There was every likelihood that Trump’s choice could undo Obama Care and other major cases and causes that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had supported over her long career. And this past weekend with the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, an arch conservative from Indiana, the fears of many may well become reality if she is confirmed.

Hearings for Judge Barrett will begin in mid-October and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to have the voting done before the Nov. 3 election. So much for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish and the loud protestations of American voters and Democratic leaders.

So now, before the most crucial election in our history, we face the probability that Amy Coney Barrett could certainly create an earthquake of reversals, beginning with the Supreme Court hearings on Obama Care in mid November. A radio news report I heard this week indicated that Amy Coney Barrett had been outspoken about her disappointment in Justice Roberts’ decision to uphold Obama Care.

There is nothing we can do individually to block the nomination of this anticipated conservative justice, but collectively we can still voice our discontent for this process and this president by reaching out to our senators and representatives now and on election day in the polls. My wife already expressed her opinion to Sen. Chris Murphy and has already heard back from a staff member in his office with an offer to get her message to Sen. Murphy.

Contrary to the frustration we all may feel about the disregard for Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish, we do have a voice in this democracy.

We can use our voices on absentee ballots and at the polls to possibly change the course of these next four years.

That does not mean I am telling anyone how to vote. I am instead hoping that everyone eligible to vote will overcome any concerns about whether their vote will truly count and vote for the candidate they truly believe will unite and lead the country. From my perspective, that will be the only way this election will have the impact it should have. Early voting has already begun and reports are saying that more than a million votes have been cast across18 States.

According to Stacy Abrams, former Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the state of Georgia and now the head of Fair Fight, “Our votes will only count if voters believe they will make a difference. But voters have to show up. Abrams mentioned that her organization has been very encouraged by how many Georgia voters under 30 are registering, along with people of color.

Earlier this week, we witnessed one of the biggest travesties in debate history. It should have been a dignified, pre-presidential election debate, where candidates discussed Trump and Biden records, Supreme Court, Covid-19, the economy, race and violence in American cities and the integrity of the election. Instead, viewers like us witnessed a free-for-all where the president of the United States ignored rules, boundaries and the debate coordinator and hurled barbs and insults at opponent, Vice President Joe Biden.

Instead of what we heard, we needed the candidates to speak to what’s really happening in America. Millions

of people are still unemployed and unable to pay their rent or mortgage, COVID-19 cases are spiking again, racial tension and violence is growing across the nation, there’s little or no regard for climate change, there’s warnings about how the results of the election will be handled and threats to the very democracy that Ruth Bader Ginsburg represented.

Sadly, on the very day that Justice Ginsburg was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, her legacy may have been buried with her.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at