When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, there was an outpouring of grief across liberal America. Even before she passed away in September 2020, she had become somewhat of a Democratic superhero; in 2019, I bought an RBG doll for my friend’s baby in a shop that sold social justice memorabilia, and in 2016 Ginsburg released a book titled My Own Words that included writings of Ginsburg going right back to the eighth grade. For the month after her death, the huge Brooklyn arena Atlantic-Barclays Centre featured her photo and some of her most famous quotes rather than the usual advertisements for basketball games and music concerts. Her loss during some of the worst days of the pandemic – and while Donald Trump was still president – felt like the final nail in the coffin for liberal optimism.
Then, of course, things rapidly changed. Two months later, the 2020 election results showed a win for Joe Biden. That still gave Trump time to quickly fill Ginsburg’s empty seat on the Supreme Court with a hardline, anti-abortionist conservative: Amy Coney Barrett, a woman who stood against pretty much everything Ginsburg had believed in. This was done despite the fact that Republicans told Obama during his presidency that it was poor form to fill a vacated Supreme Court seat in his final year – and blocked his ability to confirm his pick. Under Trump, there were no gentlemen’s agreements, no concessions to the other side.
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