Point Park Reacts to RBG’s death

Written By Nardos Haile, Co-News Editor

In the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, Point Park students and professors weighed in on the impact of her death, legacy and her contested vacant Supreme Court Justice seat.

Ginsburg died from complications from metastatic cancer on September 18. The Justice was the first Jewish woman and the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court alongside the first, former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Ginsburg served 27 years, becoming one of the most prominent members of the court and a liberal figurehead.

“[Ginsburg’s death] caused grief,” Dr. Dora Ion, a political science professor at Point Park, said. “We are aggravated not just by her death. You know why her death came as a surprise? It was because she was such a titan. We assign her the features of a superhero character. That’s why her death took us by surprise. But it also left us with this grief to deal with. We are already polarized at very high dangerous levels.”

Junior Bri Fallahee, a performance and practice major, shared the same sentiment.

“I honestly took it way harder than I expected to,” she said. “I’ve always really loved RBG, but my best friend called me and told me and I immediately started crying.”

Another student, senior Emma Christley, an interdisciplinary studies major, said she felt different. 

“I know a lot of people felt this spine chilling fear but I just got mad,” Christley said. 

The loss of the prominent figurehead and justice was felt throughout the political sphere last week. Thousands paid their respects on Friday, Sept. 25 during the ceremony to place the justice in state at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC. This made her the first American woman in history to lie in the US Capitol building. 

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump appeared in attendance at the Capitol on Friday. They were met with fervent chants and boos from the thousands of mourners in the crowd.

The public disavowal of Trump at the service stems from the recently announced Supreme Court nominee replacement for Ginsburg.

In Ginsburg’s final moments, she dictated to her granddaughter Clara Spera, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

On Saturday, Sept. 26, President Trump appointed Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the nominee and replacement for Ginsburg’s seat, which violated Ginsburg’s final request and breaking the precedent Republicans set in standard in 2016 after former Justice Anontin Scalia’s death and stalling former President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland. 

“The Republicans like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham made a promise not to confirm any presidential nominee in an electoral year during their last year of mandate,” Ion said. “But when in politics are ever promises kept? When? We know since Machiavelli that promises are not kept in politics. I think it’s pretty clear that President Trump dismissed [Ginsburg’s] last wish.”

The new nominee is a conservative pick, which means the Supreme Court, an ideologically unbiased judicial system, will hold a 6-3 conservative majority. 

Ion stated that the impending conservative majority will allow the right-leaning judges with more influence in the decision-making process and interpreting the law from an originalist perspective.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen and how each judge is going to take a stand on issues as they arrive on the roll of the Supreme Court. But it’s pretty clear if Amy Coney Barrett is going to be confirmed the conservatives are going to have tremendous leverage,” said Ion.

Furthermore, a conservative majority Supreme Court calls into question the livelihood of women’s reproductive health. 

“It’s truly horrifying. One of my biggest things is reproductive rights for women, men and nonbinary people. It is so important to fight for that. So the thought of Roe v. Wade being reversed is absolutely horrifying,” said Fallahee.

Christley agreed, “Sure undo Roe v. Wade, you’re not going to stop abortion, you’re just going to put more women in harm and particularly low-income women of color more than anything. Cause ultimately white women will still be able to afford private underground abortions.” 

Ion disagreed that abortion and reproductive rights will entirely be overturned. She stated the Supreme Court understands the negative implications of overturning a set precedent and law. But within the last several years abortion rights have slowly begun to retract. 

“The Supreme Court has already curtailed women’s right to abortion in various instances. The right to an abortion has chipped away in many previous instances,” Ion said, referencing a Supreme Court decision on an Indiana law that “contributed in some extent to stigmatizing abortion,” as well as limitations on the right to an abortion put in place by various state legislations. “We don’t need to assist, to attend, to witness an overturn per se in order to have the right to abortion restricted or impossible to exercise.”

Moreover, Ion stated women and minority groups like the LGBTQ+ community still have reasons to be apprehensive about the ideological shift of the court.

Within the next month, Ginsburg’s contested seat will continue to further the political and social divide in the US but the woman behind the seat inspired many young women like Fallahee and Christley.

“[Ginsburg] set precedents and those mean something, as least they should. So I’m hoping that legal professionals and people who value the law, or at least the good parts of it, will uphold that and they won’t erase her memory. Cause her memory lives in her work and the laws she gave us,” Christley said.