Supreme Court Succession and the Notorious RBG, by Mark Erickson

U.S. President Donald Trump and Neil Gorsuch, left, smile as Trump nominates Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 31, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

#45 announced his nomination for the Supreme Court earlier this week. From what I’ve heard, Neil Gorsuch is Antonin Scalia 2.0. If confirmed, Gorsuch will be the youngest (49) Court Justice, seven years younger than Justice Elena Kagan.

On November 13, 2016, I went to my local library to hear The Fat Babies, a jazz band that plays regularly at Chicago’s vaunted jazz venue, The Green Mill. (It is rumored that Al Capone went there to listen to jazz.) Since I arrived slightly late for the free show, I had to listen from the foyer as all seats were taken. I then noticed a book, Notorious RBG, written by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, placed on an endcap. I perused the book while listening to jazz from the era of Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong. I flipped the pages of the book about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which is a biography sprinkled with passages and pictures to demonstrate the lighter side of of RBG. Then I started to get angry. In light of Republicans blocking the nomination of Merrick Garland, I remembered that RBG had been a two-time survivor of cancer (colon in 1999 and pancreas in 2009) and was currently the Supreme Court’s oldest Justice at 83. Before the show ended I had drawn a conclusion that RBG made a serious mistake by not retiring shortly after President Obama’s re-election. When I got home I sent this email to one of the author’s of the book.

From: Mark Erickson

Date: Sun, Nov 13, 2016 at 5:23 PM

Subject: Notorious R.B.G.

Hello Ms. Carmon:

I perused the 2015 book you co-authored with Ms. Shana Knizhnik. (I could not find her email address.) I’ve been asking myself since last Wednesday whether Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was full of hubris or lacked common sense when she did not retire after America re-elected President Obama and well before the unexpected passing of Justice Scalia.

As you know, Justice Ginsburg became the oldest liberal on the Supreme Court after John Paul Stevens retired in 2010.

I found my answer on page 171. “A Hillary Clinton presidency might be the perfect moment for Ruth Bader Ginsburg to step down, but for now, she stays because she loves the job.”

Tuesday’s election gave new meaning to your book’s title.

Mark Erickson

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