September 23, 2020

On Senate Floor, Cardin Honors Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) delivered the following statement honoring Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away on Friday, September 18, 2020.

Cardin RBG Statement

[Watch the full video HERE]

On the Significance of Justice Ginsburg’s Rosh Hashanah Passing

“Her death on the eve of Rosh Hashanah has significance in Jewish tradition, as some rabbis have noted that one of the themes of Rosh Hashanah suggest that very righteous people would die at the very end of the year because they were needed until the very end.  Under Jewish tradition, those who die on the new year holiday are considered ‘tzadik,’ a title given to the righteous and saintly.”

On Her Legacy of Equality and Excellence

“Justice Ginsburg was both an inspiration and a trailblazer in every sense of the words. After breaking through the countless barriers thrown in her path, she re-defined what it meant to be a both a thoughtful jurist and a dedicated public servant. First in her undergraduate class at Cornell University; first female member of the Harvard Law Review; graduated first in her class at Columbia Law School; first female professor at Columbia University to earn tenure. Justice Ginsburg directed the ACLU Women’s Rights Project and argued six landmark cases before the Supreme Court – winning five of those cases. These cases protected not only the rights of women, but also many men who faced discrimination as well.”

On Her Pivotal SCOTUS Decisions

“I will always remember her dissenting opinion in the Lilly Ledbetter case because it led directly to change. Justice Ginsburg wrote in that fiery dissent: ‘Our precedent suggests, and lower courts have overwhelmingly held, that the unlawful practice is the current payment of salaries infected by gender-based (or race-based) discrimination – a practice that occurs whenever a paycheck delivers less to a woman than to a similarly situated man.’  … Her dissent led to congressional action, becoming the first piece of legislation signed by President Barack Obama.  The text of this bill hung on her office wall for good reason, as it was the embodiment of her spirit.”

On What’s At Stake

Health Care: “I mention these cases to underscore the importance of a Supreme Court justice in the lives of all Americans. So much is at stake in the filling of justice Ginsburg's vacancy. It will have real consequences on all of our constituents. Let me just give you a few examples of what is likely to be taken up by the Supreme Court that could affect my constituents in Maryland and the constituents around the nation. Your health care is literally on the line. The Affordable Care Act that President Trump has tried to repeal and the Republicans tried to repeal in this body but have failed, they're now going to take it to the Supreme Court. A hearing is scheduled this November. This is a real risk for tens of millions of Americans who depend on the law for their health coverage and other benefits. 20 million Americans could lose their health care, and people with preexisting conditions could lose those protections. That's 133 million Americans. During the Coronavirus pandemic. That's what's at risk.”

Immigration: “But our most vulnerable individuals are at risk as well. Let me talk about one specific group of people, some of our immigrants. On June 18, 2020, in a 5-4 decision written by Justice Roberts and joined by Justice Ginsburg, the Supreme Court held that the Department of Homeland Security violated a law when it rescinded the deferred action for the childhood-arrival DACA program. There are approximately 643,000 DACA recipients in the United States and approximately 29,000 are healthcare workers, essential workers who serve us during the COVID-19 pandemic, who have saved lives and eased suffering. But for that 5-4 decision, those individuals' lives could have been totally disrupted, and they have been ordered to leave our country. These are individuals who know no other home but the United States of America. They're our neighbors and friends. And yet, the 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court by Justice Ginsburg will no longer be there. This next justice could very well determine the fate of the Dreamers.”

LGBTQ Rights: “In the Obergefell v. Hodges case, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry in a 5-4 decision. I always expected that in America we would move forward in protecting individual rights under our Constitution. That each Congress and each session of the Supreme Court would advance those rights for individuals' protection under the constitution of the United States. The filling of the Supreme Court vacancy could very well reverse a trend of protecting rights and denying many in our community their rights.”

On Fairly Appointing Her Successor

“So many of our colleagues said if there is a Republican elected in 2016 and the Senate's controlled by the Republicans, we would say the same thing: ‘Hold off. Let the voters have a chance.’ In 2016 Senate Republicans refused to consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy. They would not meet with Judge Garland, hold a hearing on his nomination, or allow votes for 293 days. Justice Scalia died on February -- in February of 2016. President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a respected D.C. Circuit judge with bipartisan support, in March of 2016. In the case of Justice Ginsburg's vacancy in 2020, they were about 40 days away from a general election and early absentee voting had already begun in several states. By contrast in 2016, the formal presidential primary election had just begun to occur when Justice Scalia died. So our colleagues spoke up then, said look, four years ago, our Republican colleagues said not enough time, leave it up to the voters. We will do it whether it's a Democrat or Republican. Let me just quote from one of our colleagues, the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell. This is his quote on the floor of the Senate: ‘Mr. President, the next justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country, so of course, of course the American people should have a say in the court's direction.’”

“…Let’s follow the McConnell rule and let the American people pick the next president and Senate, so that they can weigh in on this decision, just as Senator McConnell argued in 2016 with President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland for Justice Scalia’s seat.  Let the Senate honor Justice Ginsburg’s legacy by continuing to fight for the rights she fought for her entire career, both as a litigator, Circuit Judge, and finally as a Supreme Court Justice.  Let us honor Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish: ‘My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.’”

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