In the summer of 2007, I had the honor of spending almost three weeks with the Notorious RBG and her charming husband, Marty ["RBG was a different kind of feminist," Opinion, Sept. 23].
I was tasked with directing Hofstra University’s summer law program in Sorrento, Italy. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was team-teaching with her old friend and colleague, Hofstra law school professor Leon Friedman, another distinguished champion of civil rights. I was excited to have this difficult but delightful opportunity because Ginsburg had long been one of my heroines.
We shared many amazing times in those precious weeks. One that stands out involved the challenging task of finding a yacht, for which I was not trained or inclined. But found a suitable boat to take our party of eight on a day cruise. My favorite memory will always be the distinguished and elegant justice, who for just a few hours lay down her pressing and endless responsibilities as she sat windblown as the beautiful figurehead at the bow of the boat. And that’s how we’ll all remember her — our powerful, relentless icon of human rights guiding us through windy and turbulent waters to a more just, sane and benevolent future.
Editor’s note: The writer is a professor of global studies at Hofstra University.
RBG’s life, achievements and impact
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been praised by the media as an activist. Is there such a thing as an unbiased activist? Ginsburg represented America and our citizens with hard work and a brilliant legal mind. I believe, though, that any current or future justice should not be an activist for any issue before the high court. An activist is someone who has already made up his or her mind on a particular issue. An activist plays an important role within our democracy, but I believe that role does not belong on our Supreme Court. Or any court.
The Supreme Court situation has recent roots ["Plan to vote in October," News, Sept. 23]. In 2013, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada changed the Senate rules, from requiring 60 votes to seat a judge to 51, ensuring that Republicans no longer could block some of President Barack Obama’s judicial selections. But it also removed the ability of the minority party to influence the process, thus ensuring one-party rule. We see the result. Reid may not have thought this through, since no party controls the Senate indefinitely. Democrats currently have no say in judicial selection. This situation only adds to the division and bitterness that grows in our nation and guarantees our courts will be seen as politicized. I hope someone changes the Senate rules to require 60 votes to confirm once again, correcting this foolish exercise. The rule was in place not to thwart the party that controls the Senate but to bring moderation to the process by requiring the majority to bring some of the minority onboard to seat the selections.
Mark R. Smith,
It’s disgraceful that Senate Republicans eagerly lined up behind Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham to signal support for confirming President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court — without even knowing who it would be. I believe this does irreparable harm to the reputation of the Senate, will do irreparable damage to the stature of the Supreme Court, and ultimately will irreparably diminish America itself.
With the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the hurried, disrespectful Republican rush to fill her seat, before funeral services had even been set, voters must realize it’s time to stand up and say something. We must say no to the GOP hypocrisy. President Donald Trump’s administration has been playing by its own rules for nearly four years, and the GOP has been allowing it. I believe we need to tell our Trump-supporting friends and family that this is wrong, and that defending Trump is wrong. Keeping our mouths shut and ignoring GOP antics hasn’t worked. I say it’s time to stop being polite. Too much is at stake.
Court packing is too risky a response to the impending right-wing majority. But setting a mandatory retirement age of 75 or 80 for all federal judges — including the highest court — would be a reasonable, measured response that would prevent the "immortal justice" problem that allows an ideology to dominate the courts for a generation. Republicans can hardly object as it merely requires them to win elections to get the court they desire. I believe it’s a simple, reasonable tweak with profound consequences. A few years of a right-wing court will not be fatal to the republic. And it may wake up the nonvoting electorate who perpetually say, "It doesn’t matter which party gets in, they’re all the same."
Reader W.J. Van Sickle says, "Schumer should be happy that McConnell is doing it his way" ["RBG’s legacy and the fight over SCOTUS," Letters, Sept. 22]. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should have done it the same way both times. What Van Sickle is apparently in favor of is "heads I win, tails you lose," in which the other person loses every time. I’m sure that if Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer played that way, Van Sickle would scream that Schumer is cheating. Changing the rules in the middle of the game is never fair. The rule that McConnell espoused in 2016 should be the same rule he espouses in 2020, but hypocrisy reigns.
Karen Meyer Campbell,
I found the letter outrageous about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s deathbed wish that she "did not want President Donald Trump to select her successor ... only demonstrates to me that even with death imminent, Ginsburg had little regard for the Constitution" ["Ensuing politics after RBG’s death," Letters, Sept. 23]. RBG never mentioned, in her dying statement, the name Donald Trump; she only wanted to hold off the nomination process until after the election, which is the same thing the Republicans did when Justice Antonin Scalia died well before the last election. If Trump were reelected, then of course he could choose RBG’s successor without any political backlash. As for Ginsburg’s "little regard for the Constitution," I’d like the letter writer to show me where in the Constitution it says that a person couldn’t express a wish for a Supreme Court nominee to be appointed in an election year by the new president. I’d also like to know how her lifelong battle for women’s rights and civil rights showed little regard for the Constitution.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s hypocrisy highlights the reason many people are upset with elected officials. There is no integrity. Politicians do what is best for themselves (with side deals for pet projects) or what is best for their party, regardless of how it affects the country. When will this stop? Maybe when this behavior is not rewarded with reelection.