Saturday, September 19, 2020

Defending an iconic trailblazer, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Like everyone who cares about our democracy, I am shocked and heartbroken.
She meant so much to me and to so many people. 

Like everyone who cares about our democracy, I am shocked and heartbroken by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was a titan of the Supreme Court, a champion for gender equality, voting rights, and the environment. 

In any other year we’d be able to take the time to pause -- to honor and remember her legacy. 

But this is 2020, and already Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Congressional Republicans, and others are scheming to rush through an extreme nominee. Contact your senators now and tell them to honor Justice Ginsburg by following her final wishes: Not to replace her until a new president is installed. Don’t forget to tell them what Justice Ginsburg meant to you, and why her successor should not be rushed.
Contact Your Senators Now



All of us who care about civil liberties, equal rights, and democracy mourn the loss of one of our greatest champions, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She meant so much to so many people, including so many of us here at Sierra Club. To all of you who are feeling shocked, depressed, and outraged, I mourn with you. 

Unfortunately, our hero isn't getting the time for reverence and remembrance that she deserves. The same forces Justice Ginsburg fought against for so long are already organizing to erase her legacy.

Justice Ginsburg was a master wordsmith, using her power with words to fight for justice, freedom, and a clean environment. A great way to honor her is by using your own power and words. Share your personal memories of Justice Ginsburg with your senators and why she means so much to you. Tell them in your own words to honor Justice Ginsburg's legacy by not moving any nominee forward until after the next inauguration.

Justice Ginsburg was a fighter. She fought not only -- and famously -- for equal rights based on gender, race, and sexual orientation, but also for the environment. She championed the rights of citizens to take action in court to prevent environmental harm.[1] She defended the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and authored several of the opinions that gave EPA the power and responsibility to regulate greenhouse gases.[2]

But most notably, she always defended an individual's right to equality and dignity, and to determine the course of their own lives. The Senate should take her wishes into consideration as we honor her, noting that shortly before she died she dictated to her granddaughter, Clara Spera, that: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed." [3]

Tell your senators that we must honor Justice Ginsburg's final wishes. She should not be replaced until a new president is installed.

After the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February of 2016, most Republican senators rallied behind a new idea -- a new justice should not be voted on, or even given a hearing, until after a new president and Congress had been seated.[4] This was nine months before the election and it meant that President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, was never given consideration. We are now only a few weeks away from an election, and any rush to confirm a nominee would be the height of hypocrisy. 

We are dealing with multiple crises in the country: climate disruption, a pandemic, a reckoning on racial justice, economic turmoil, and widespread voter suppression. A sham confirmation process should not be the top priority.

Tell your senators to focus on the crises facing our country and your community. They should not be confirming a Supreme Court Justice until after the next inauguration.

We should respect Justice Ginsburg's final wishes. We should take action as she took action to speak truth to power and stand up for what's right. We should honor her brilliant ability with words by sending a message to demand our senators wait to fill her seat until after the inauguration.

May her memory be a blessing,

Michael Brune
Executive Director
Sierra Club


1 - Pamela King and Jeremy P. Jacobs, “Ginsburg death leaves 'no environmental voice' on bench.” E&E News, Sept 19, 2020.
2 - Alex Guillen, “Ginsburg left a long environmental legacy” Politico, Sept 19, 2020.
3 - Jeremy Stahl “RBG’s Dying Words: “My Most Fervent Wish Is That I Not Be Replaced Until a New President Is Installed.” Slate, Sept 18, 2020.
4 - Tim Murphy, “A Long List of GOP Senators Who Promised Not to Confirm a Supreme Court Nominee During an Election Year” Mother Jones, Sept 19, 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has not passed and continues to disproportionately harm  Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people and other communities of color. The pandemic has revealed how the communities hardest hit are often the same communities that suffer from high levels of pollution and poor access to healthcare. The fight for environmental justice cannot be separated from the fight for racial justice.

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