Civil rights, voting rights, gender rights, women’s rights, healthcare rights, workers rights and safety. The Supreme Court of the United States of America has been the final say in how we live our lives.
Talk about power.
These nine justices serve for life. And ultimately dictate for decades their perceptions and views on American law and justice.
We rarely think about them, or care who they are, until their actions impact us.
Without them we’d still have laws that allow, separate but equal. Continued age and gender discrimination. Voter suppression of large segments of the population. Companies to trample workers’ rights and health for profit. We just lost a giant.
A women small in stature but whose larger than life and immeasurable achievements will be remembered for generations. Even after graduating top of her class from Harvard and Columbia law schools, no firm would hire her. Just like her predecessor- Justice Sandra O’ Connell- both were denied employment because they were women. Ruth Bader Ginsberg had two more strikes – she was a mother and she was Jewish. She began by fiercely defending gender rights-male ones to be exact.
She knew she couldn’t sway an all male Supreme Court by asking them to acknowledge female rights so she went in through the backdoor, by defending a bachelor who was denied a minor tax refund for the care of his ill mother, a deduction deemed the purview of women only. The idea a man might give up everything to support his ailing parent was unthinkable. That case blazed a path for future landmark gender right decisions that created equality for all under the law.
After the first woman Supreme Court Justice Sandra O’ Connell retired in 2006, Ruth Bader Ginsberg was nominated and overwhelmingly accepted by a bipartisan senate. She served as a Justice to the Supreme Court from 1993 until her death from pancreatic cancer on September 18, 2020. Her passing will affect our nation and everyday life for generations to come. Especially with the cases the court will be adjudicating in the near future.
November 10, 2020, the Supreme Court will rule on the fate of Obamacare and the legal requirement for insurance companies to cover all Americans, regardless of past medical issues. If defeated, insurance companies will once again be able to refuse acceptance to those most in need- diabetics, asthmatics, hypertensives (estimated to be half the adult US population), cardiovascular, renal, pulmonary diseases, and cancer. Or insurance companies will be able to charge exorbitant costs to those unable to do without care. Before Obamacare women were routinely charged more than men and anyone who had the temerity to get pregnant was judged as having a pre-existing condition as well. And what about those seven million infected with COVID, and counting? They too will no longer be covered.
If President Trump continues to advocate for “ herd immunity” at the very least a full 65% of our population will be infected and deemed uninsurable. The greatest land in the world denying healthcare to the majority of its citizens in the middle of a pandemic, with the worst economy and loss of jobs since the depression. Who could be so cruel as to even discuss, let alone promote, such a heartless and catastrophic idea? Less than six weeks before election day, President Trump traveled to North Carolina and announced his commitment to protecting Americans with pre-existing medical conditions by issuing an executive order. It begs the question- if Americans are already protected by Obamacare, why did Trump need an executive order? The truth? He is trying to eradicate it and claim he’s not.
While a president can use an executive order to direct federal agencies to do certain things, he or she can’t change the law or place new legal requirements on how health insurers act in a commercial market. That means Trump simply cannot tell insurers they must offer coverage to someone with a pre-existing medical condition. And, instead of protecting life and ensuring voters the right to safely cast their ballot in an April primary, during the height of a pandemic killing a thousand people a day, the Supreme Court rolled back an absentee-ballot extension that would have given them just one extra week to submit ballots by mail.
As the CDC has made clear- voting in person amid a pandemic creates serious and life threatening risks. That is why all experts strongly advocated voting by mail for the November election. Doing so would ensure that people can exercise their right to vote without risking millions of lives. Yet when states followed this advice the federal government systematically attacked it, even when the head of the FBI and years of alleged voter fraud has been debunked. Voting by mail is safe and secure and the only way to ensure lives will not be lost while fulfilling our most sacred democratic right.
The general election could end up in the Supreme Court. Arguments that could change women’s rights under Roe V. Wade will be heard next year as well. All polls show more than 70% of Americans favor a woman’s right to choose. I volunteered at Planned Parenthood in the seventies and saw firsthand the devastation an unwanted pregnancy forced on a mother. Or the deaths and destruction suffered by young girls, not much more than babies themselves, after trying to end it with a butcher on the streets or a coat hangar. Supreme Court justices define our society for years to come. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s historic life and service to our Country was felt by everyone. She was a voice that protected us all. She will be dearly missed.