Justice Ginsburg’s death moves the political needle

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will do what nothing else has done in recent months: recalibrate the 2020 presidential election.

The growing number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. has been met with shrugs across the country; the data have merely strengthened the camps in which Americans find themselves.

The accusation made this week by a former model that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her was a major story, an exclusive in fact, in a British newspaper. It generated little interest in the U.S. Even if it had, no one would have used it in a conversation about how people will vote in November.

Likewise, reports that women held in detention centers were being forced to have hysterectomies didn’t alter the political calculus.

But Justice Ginsburg’s death will.

If, as I already have predicted, Republicans support any effort by President Trump to get a replacement for Ginsburg rammed through the Senate before the election, America’s judicial shift to the right will be significant. It would mean the president had appointed three justices in four years.

Considering Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell refused to let President Obama nominate a justice in the final year of his presidency, in 2016, the double standard in allowing Trump to do just that will be especially onerous.

No amount of screaming that McConnell is a snake — or some similar language — will mean anything; he, too, would have his strengthened his vision for the country.

Because of Ginsburg’s passing, Democrats will be further emboldened to get out the vote in November. They know a Trump re-election would almost certainly mean at least one other justice appointment and the demise of the Affordable Care Act sometime between 2021 and 2024. Roe v Wade also would be under legitimate threat. A host of other policies supported by the left — everything from unions to limits on gun rights — would be imperiled in a second Trump term.

Republicans, too, will remind their supporters that the America they envision is so very close to being realized with yet another justice. Under the radar federal judicial appointments by Trump alongside any successes in the states to “Make America Great Again” would be realized under Trump between 2021 and 2024.

The voters might not be able to stop Sen. McConnell from any unethical act in the coming days, but they could set the stage for Democrats, if Joe Biden is elected and if Democrats take control of the Senate in January, to increase the size of the Supreme Court in the coming years.

A Supreme Court of, maybe, 15?

However vulgar such an action appears, it’s no different than what McConnell has done. By saying no in 2016 and yes in 2020, he, too, would be responsible for two of those new conservative justices.

A Supreme Court of 15 would seem inconsistent with American democracy. But Trump, McConnell and the Republicans haven’t shown any fealty to American principles over the past few years. Why should the Democrats hold their fire, so to speak, if they can control of the levers of government?

Yes, Justice Ginsburg’s passing might be the single most important event in 2020. What follows from it could alter America more noticeably than coronavirus, the treatment of immigrant women or anything else might.

There will be a new Supreme Court Justice this year

The shift to the right in the United States Supreme Court will continue.

The passing of Justice Ruth Badger Ginsburg opens the door for the President to nominate another justice. It would be his third appointment in the first four years of his presidency.

Wait, you say, Sen. Mitch McConnell established a kind-of unwritten rule in 2016 when he blocked President Obama from nominating a candidate because, in McConnell’s opinion, the American people should first determine who the president would be before anyone new joins the Court.

Get real. Do you really think the senator is going to follow that unwritten rule now?

We should anticipate that the Supreme Court will have, at least on reputation, five conservative justices. That doesn’t include the Chief Justice, who, frankly, appears “liberal” in comparison to some of the jurists with whom he works.

You can argue what that reliably fifth conservative justice will mean to American law.

Antwon Rose/Steelers’ helmet controversy grows

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced last week their helmets would bear the name of a dead Pittsburgh teenager, Antwon Rose.

And now we have controversy.

As TribLive reports, one player changed the name on his helmet last weekend. Now another has hinted he might.

And that’s just the beginning.

(S)afety Minkah Fitzpatrick said the decision of using Rose’s name “came from upstairs” (the front office and/or coaching staff), indicating there was no player vote.

There’s a valuable lesson in communication here: Make clear why something is being done, and then make sure everyone is in agreement.

There’s no reason to question the players’ suggestions that they never voted on what name would appear on their helmets. (And, yes, if they’re being asked to make a “political” statement, they ought to be the ones deciding if they wish to make it.)

There’s every reason to commend the team’s coaches or front office (or both) for wanting to make an important statement. (The aforementioned news report provides sufficient background to understand what happened to Rose.)

But if a player wants to opt out (or choose to honor someone else), then he certainly has that right, especially if he wasn’t consulted on the decision.

Someone goofed in delivering the information to the players.