Will RBG’s Death Bring Filling the Vacancy?

by Daveda Gruber

On the Erve of Rosh Hashanah (Rosh Hashanah eve), which marks the start of the Jewish New Year, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg succumbed to pancreatic cancer. She was eighty-seven years old.

Bader Ginsburg was born on March 15, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York.

She had said that she had the good fortune to be a Jew born in the U.S.A. Her father left Odessa bound for the New World in 1909, at age 13 and he mother was first in her large family to be born here, in 1903.

Her mother, Celia, died of cancer the day before her high school graduation in 1948.

Ruth was married to Martin D. Ginsburg who was diagnosed with testicular cancer and endured two operations and radiation therapy to treat the disease during his third year at Harvard.

A few days after their fifty-sixth wedding anniversary Marty Ginsburg died of cancer at the age of seventy-eight.

Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. She kept her position on the high court until she died.

Soon after the announcement of Justice Ginsburg’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that the Senate would vote on a nominee put forward by President Trump to replace her.

In February 2016  Justice Antonin Scalia died and McConnell said then that November voters should have a say and that a new Supreme Court Justice should be chosen by a new president.

McConnell didn’t allow a Senate confirmation hearing or vote on former President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland.

President Trump’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed soon after Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

Although this seems to be contradictory, keep in mind that Obama wasn’t running for another term. He was, in fact, a lame duck president.

Even so, there are Senate Republicans who would oppose filling the vacancy in the Supreme Court.

Those GOP Senators who could possibly be against confirming a new Justice this close to an election are Senator Lisa Murkowsi from Alaska; Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado; Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa; Senator Joni Ernst from Iowa; Senator Susan Collins from Maine and Senator Mitt Romney from Utah.

Some of these Senators are in tight races to get re-elected and may not want to make waves.

Actually, even Lindsey Graham from South Carolina is in a very tight race with his Democratic opponent, Jaime Harrison but will vote for a replacement Justice.

Bader-Ginsburg has left instructions that she doesn’t want to be replaced until after the election. This is not her choice to make, though.

My condolences go out to the Bader-Ginsburg family and friends out of respect. May she rest in peace.

Still, Bader-Ginsburg was an icon and a woman of conviction and she didn’t like President Trump. She didn’t retire, even though she was old and dying of cancer, because she didn’t want Trump to get to choose the next Supreme Court Justice. She wanted a new President to choose. Was she that convinced that there would be a new President?

Somehow that sticks in my mind. When you know you have a disease that will end your life in a short amount of time but blandly refuse to step down from a very high position because of dislike for a man in the highest position in the land, I find that problematic.

Is there time to confirm a new justice? Not really. According to the Congressional Research Service, the average number of days from nomination to final Senate vote since 1975 is 67 days (2.2 months), while the median is 71 days (or 2.3 months).

Can the system be rushed and pushed through? I’m not sure because it is unprecedented.

Will Trump and McConnell try to get a new Justice on the highest court in the land before the next election, even with so much in their way?

The answer to that will come shortly and if I were to make a guess, it would be in the affirmative.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Treated for Malignant Pancreatic Tumor

by Daveda Gruber:

It was announced on Friday that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is allegedly feeling good and getting better after three weeks of radiation therapy for a tumor on her pancreas.

Ginsburg is reported to have had a malignant tumor on her pancreas that was successfully treated.

A court spokesperson said in a statement, “The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. Justice Ginsburg will continue to have periodic blood tests and scans. No further treatment is needed at this time.”

This past July, the Supreme Court Justice had a routine blood test and an abnormality appeared. A biopsy was done and it revealed the tumor.

Radiation treatment for Ginsburg started on August 5th at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The treatment was said to have been done with Bader Ginsburg being an outpatient.

Ginsburg is 86 years old and is said to have tolerated the treatment well. A bile duct stent was placed on her pancreas.

The statement also said, “The Justice tolerated treatment well. She canceled her annual summer visit to Santa Fe, but has otherwise maintained an active schedule.”

Ginsburg has made it clear that she has no intention of stepping down from the bench. She plans to hold her seat for as long as her health permits.

Ginsburg has had her fair share of ill health. She had surgery cancer surgery in December. She had colorectal cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009.

Justices usually return to work in September to begin the new Supreme Court term, which will begin on October 7th. I’ll be interested to see who shows up for work.

RBG Returns to the Bench for Ruling on Excessive Seizure of Property by States

by Daveda Gruber:

On Wednesday the Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that marked the first time the court has applied the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines at the state level.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the court’s opinion and read a summary of her opinion in the courtroom.

The 85-year-old justice missed arguments last month following lung cancer surgery, but returned to the bench on Tuesday.

The outcome could help efforts to rein in police seizure of property from criminal suspects.

Ginsburg’s opinion piece was in favor of Tyson Timbs, of Marion, Indiana. Police seized Timbs’ $40,000 Land Rover when they arrested him for selling about $400 worth of heroin.

Ginsburg noted that governments employ fines “out of accord with the penal goals of retribution and deterrence” because fines are a source of revenue.

Ginsburg wrote, “Protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history for good reason: Such fines undermine other liberties. They can be used, e.g., to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies. They can also be employed, not in service of penal purposes, but as a source of revenue.”

Timbs had twice previously sold drugs to undercover officers. The Land Rover was purchased with money Timbs received from his father’s life insurance policy after his death in 2012.

After his arrest, Timbs pleaded guilty to one count of dealing in a controlled substance. He was sentenced to one year of home detention and five years of probation, and had to pay court fees and fines totaling $1,200.

A trial court in Indiana and the Indiana Court of Appeals found that taking the Land Rover would be “grossly disproportional to the gravity” of Timbs’ offense and unconstitutional under the Constitution’s excessive fines clause.

The trial judge noted Timbs’ vehicle was worth roughly four times the maximum monetary fine of $10,000 the state could have levied against him for his crimes.

The Indiana Supreme Court disagreed, and said the Supreme Court “has never held that the states are subject to the Excessive Fines Clause.”

The SCOTUS ruling was unanimous and Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a separate opinion outlining different reasons for reaching the same conclusion. He wrote that “the right to be free from excessive fines is one of the ‘privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States’ protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Ginsburg’s opinion was based on the due process clause of the same amendment.

The Supreme Court sent the case of Tyson Timbs back to a lower court to decide if Indiana officials went too far in seizing Timbs’ Land Rover.

The high court’s ruling could now limit the ability for states and cities to carry out an increasingly common practice of imposing steep fines and seizing property.