Elected officials from around Riverside County were mourning the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg this weekend, with Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, calling her death a “devastating loss of one of the most consequential voices in history.”
“Throughout her career, Justice Ginsburg fought fiercely to further justice and champion equality while shattering glass ceilings of her own along the way,” Garcia said Saturday. “We all stand stronger on the shoulders of her achievements. Her legacy will continue to inspire and shape the future of our democracy.”
Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, tweeted, “Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a brilliant legal mind, a trailblazer for gender equality, a champion of gay marriage, and a steadfast voice for justice on the Supreme Court. It is impossible to quantify her impact on our country.”
In 2015, Ginsburg joined the 5-4 majority in the Obergefell v. Hodges case, overturning a ban on same-sex marriages across the county.
“Marriage today is not what it was under the common law tradition, under the civil law tradition,” said Ginsburg during oral arguments when Justices John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy challenged whether the court had a right to challenge centuries of tradition.
“Marriage was a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female,” she explained. “That ended as a result of this court’s decision in 1982 when Louisiana’s Head and Master Rule was struck down. Would that be a choice that state should [still] be allowed to have? To cling to marriage the way it once was?”
Rep. Mark Takano, D-Riverside, called Ginsburg “a trailblazer,” “a champion” and “an American hero.”
Ginsburg was the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court, nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
The Columbia Law School graduate taught at Rutgers and Columbia and was a fierce courtroom advocate of women’s rights, making her an iconic figure to feminists. Along the way she earned a cultural cachet rarely seen on the high court, earning the nickname “The Notorious RBG.”
While heading the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1970s, she brought a series of cases before the court that helped establish constitutional protections against sex discrimination.
Ginsburg died at her home in Washington of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, the court announced Friday. She was 87.
The leader of the court’s four-member liberal wing had repeatedly vowed to stay on the bench as long as her health permitted. In a statement she dictated to her granddaughter within days of her death, Ginsburg said her “fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
But President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, signaled they would try to seize the opportunity to name and confirm her successor in the final days of Trump’s first term.
Their intentions appear to contradict a precedent set by McConnell in 2016, when the Kentucky Republican refused to allow the Senate to vote on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the open seat left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Garland was nominated by Obama in March 2016, but McConnell insisted it wasn’t appropriate for the Senate to vote on a nominee in an election year and the seat remained vacant until it was filled by Trump’s nominee Neil Gorsuch in 2017.
McConnell is taking a different position in 2020.
“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” McConnell said in a statement late Friday.
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