The death of
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at 87 from metastatic pancreatic cancer on Friday, Sept. 18, devastated millions, and caused a worldwide outpouring of powerful remembrance. Now that the initial shock has passed, though, you may be reading about the Notorious RBG's life achievements — her landmark decisions, her thundering dissents, her powerful effects on history — and wondering what will fill the void. Well, one of the answers is us.
Ginsburg devoted her life to justice, the word of law, and the fight for gender equality. She wasn't a perfect paragon of progress – she voted to allow
an oil pipeline through the Appalachian Trail in 2020, and issued an apology in 2016 after calling Colin Kaepernick's NFL kneeling protests "dumb," for instance — but as she said on one memorable occasion, she hoped her legacy was "to make life a little better for people less fortunate than you."
If you're feeling bereaved or lost with her passing coming so close to the election, you can continue that fight. Volunteer for a legal aid society in her honor, or call Republican senators who might be convinced not to confirm
President Trump's nominee for her replacement — it was her dying wish that she not be replaced until a new president came into office. If you have the funds, there are lots of places to donate to support candidates who share her values, or you can learn a little SCOTUS history to inform your next phase of activism. Below, find five ways to take action this week to honor the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Sign A Petition To Encourage The Senate Not To Confirm Trump's Pick Until After November Contact The Republicans Who Could Flip Donate To Campaigns
In addition to directly contacting Republican senators to ask them not to confirm a nominee before Election Day, you can seek out Democratic races that could have consequences in the SCOTUS fight. In Arizona,
democrat Mark Kelly is running to unseat Sen. Martha McSally, who replaced John McCain after his death, in a special election that could have the winner sworn in by Nov. 30. If Kelly wins — and polling currently estimates that that's likely — it could sway a potential confirmation battle. To support his campaign, you can donate here.
But myriad other races hang in the balance. Democratic representatives can act as a check against any conservative justice the Trump administration might push through, and supporting their campaigns can provide the push they need to cross the finish line. Since Friday,
ActBlue, a grassroots organization that spreads donations across different Democratic campaigns, saw over $100 million in new donations, many from small donors pledging a few dollars at a time. Other groups raising funds to support campaigns on the left include Emily's List, which supports female, pro-choice candidates, or Swing Left, which directs money to candidates in very close races. Learn Why Republicans Have Controlled The Supreme Court For So Long
The Supreme Court hasn't been like this — that is, so partisan. The
New Republic reports that after a scandal in 1968 forced Lyndon Johnson-appointed nominee Justice Abe Fortas to resign, the Nixon administration was able to appoint three conservative Justices, reshaping the court. That pattern has continued in the decade since, with Republicans appointing more and more conservative justices. "Since the beginnings of the Nixon court, the votes of Republican appointees to the court have aligned with emerging Republican Party positions," John Fabian Witt wrote for New Republic earlier this year.
Though not all Republican-appointed justices have been reliably conservative, sometimes siding with the court's more liberal wing, Supreme Court justices serve for life — so any confirmation will have effects for decades to come. This history isn't just dinner party conversation. Understanding how the court — which is meant to be a check on the power of the executive and legislative branches of government — has gotten so tangled up in fights between the left and right is a powerful way to fuel your activism. It also underlines how your choices and votes can reverberate all the way up to the highest court in the land.
Volunteer Virtually With A Legal Aid Clinic For Women
Before she was a Supreme Court Justice, Ginsburg
led the American Civil Liberties Union's Women's Rights Project, and even after her confirmation, she supported legal aid organizations around the country. If you have some spare time or change, give it in her name. Law students can volunteer their expertise with the Legal Aid Society, while other organizations like HerJustice provide opportunities to volunteer by helping with administration, organization, or campaign management. Look up legal aid clinics in your area and volunteer (virtually) where you can.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg may be gone, but her legacy continues. And if she energizes a host of inspired people to continue the fight for justice in 2020 and beyond, she'd probably be very well-pleased.