BY DIANE HAMBY
Why do decent, brilliant, fair and open-minded U.S. Supreme Court justices matter? What difference could it possibly make?
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on September 18, understood that the promise of America — “Liberty and justice for all” — was not a reality for so many. “All” means no exceptions so that promise should be extended to everyone. It does not matter what color you are, what sex you are, your religious beliefs, your country of origin, political affiliation, ZIP code, personal income, sexual orientation, disabilities, etc. All means all no exceptions.
Conservatives do not believe in that central promise of America. They believe that white, affluent men should have more power than everyone else. Every chance they get they reinforce that, from the archaic electoral college, to corporations being considered people (Citizens United). They believe that women are property, and therefore they can be controlled. They believe that black and brown people are not truly full citizens and worthy of the protections that full citizenship would guarantee. We see this everyday in what happens to black and brown folks when they are harmed and killed unjustly, as well as in the lack of consequences for the people who hurt and kill them.
The treatment of brown families at the border is criminal and inhumane; and yet it continues with little protections from the conservative courts.
Fair, decent, open-minded judges know that the promise of America needs to be constantly validated for those who are seeking justice and are being denied equal justice. “All” means everyone. No exceptions.
To replace RBG, who was one of the finest, brilliant legal minds on the Supreme Court, with a political appointee is a slap in the face to our courts. RBG fought to her dying breath to keep that promise of liberty and justice for all a reality. Her opinions with the majority and dissents will live forever. Even Chief Justice Roberts, in his eulogy for RBG, acknowledged her brilliance as a jurist and the loss to the court and the country. He knows she will not be replaced by someone of her caliber. The days of lively debate and dissenting opinions will be minimized.
The next justice will come from the same well and background as the last two appointees. Just because they will all think alike and rule similarly will never make their opinions good. The credibility of the Supreme Court will be diminished and our highest court will become another political body with little respect from the country. The jurists will serve ideology, not the promise of America.
Women will once again be relegated to being property with limited rights. “All” will just mean the powerful and well connected, and rest of us will not be protected. So many rights will become privileges — affordable healthcare, worker protections, voter protections, work place protections, pay equity, housing, the list is endless. Once you take away women’s rights, the dominoes will fall for so many rights, and we will revert to a time before these rights were guaranteed by law because many on the high courts do not believe these issues are settled law and should be litigated again.
The federal courts have been stacked by this administration with very young, conservative judges after older judges were asked to take early retirement. So fair judges are being forced out all across the country and even a moderate Supreme Court justice was encouraged to retire. So the courts have already been packed with conservatives who believe in ideology over “liberty and justice for all.” These will just be words not a promise.
This court packing has been a dream of conservatives for 40 years They know they can achieve minority rule through this practice. White, affluent conservative men will control the future of this
country for years to come.
I have always believed in the promise of the American dream, even though we continue to fall short. I never vote for anybody who confesses to be a conservative, especially a judicial candidate. They put their ideology first. I certainly don’t want to be before a judge who already has his or her mind made up on certain things. I want their minds and hearts open to a different point of view, and I am want them to be willing to advance the promise of America. My children, grandchildren and great grandchildren deserve the promise of “Liberty and justice for all.”
We know what we have to do for all of our children’s equality, which was RBG’s life’s work. Tell them Ruth sent you.
Diane Hamby is a former Iredell County commissioner.