Ruth Bader Ginsburg was right to keep working until the end

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died from complications of pancreatic cancer today at age 87. She leaves behind a legacy as a fierce advocate for gender equality and women’s rights, as well as a decisive voice on the highest US court for progressive causes ranging from immigration to accessible healthcare and affirmative action.

For the many Americans who admired Ginsburg, the news of her death is painful on multiple levels. Not only has the nation lost a woman widely regarded as a boundary-shattering feminist icon, her loss also puts into immediate question the future of the Supreme Court, which at the time of her death had four judges appointed by Democratic presidents (including Ginsburg) and five appointed by Republicans. If Donald Trump and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell are able to push through a nomination before the November election in the US, or if Trump is re-elected, the next justice will almost certainly be conservative, determining the court’s ideological makeup for many years into the future.

The stakes are incredibly high, as Ginsburg herself was well aware: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” she said just days before her death. In the days and weeks to come, the public discourse may well return to the question of whether Ginsburg was right in refusing to succumb to the pressure to retire during Barack Obama’s second term, which critics say would have cleared the way for another liberal judge to be appointed in her place.

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