RBG: Celebrate Her Life, But Be Prepared to Keep Fighting for What We Need

Image credit: Lorie Shaull / Creative Commons

On September 18, the Supreme Court announced that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. The reaction of many people was one of both mourning and celebration of her life, but also intense worry. Thousands of people took to the streets after her death to honor her and what she represented – women’s rights and equality. But many are afraid of what will happen if Trump gets to appoint yet another Justice to the Supreme Court. Trump has already appointed two Justices to shift the court farther to the right.

But why should we live under a system where our rights and lives are subject to the whims of nine unelected lawyers? The Supreme Court has consistently defended the rights of capitalists and the entire system of capitalism, which is based on exploitation and racism. At different times throughout its history, the Court has sought to roll back voting rights, women’s rights to abortion, labor rights, and much more. Even Ginsburg herself had defended conservative interpretations of law, including in favor of oil companies building pipelines under National Park land and indigenous people’s land. Even if Ginsburg had concerns about the impacts of these decisions, she carried out her responsibility to interpret the constitutionality of U.S. laws.

As frightful as it may seem that Trump could get to appoint another Justice to the court, we have to remember that we can’t rely on the Supreme Court to defend our rights, not even when it has a Ginsburg on it. When the Supreme Court has ruled to defend our rights, it has been because of our struggles. This past summer – as millions took to the streets to protest the racism in this society and the vicious cop murders of Black people – the conservative-dominated Supreme Court ruled in favor of transgender rights and blocked Trump’s attempt to dismantle DACA.

We have to rely on our own struggles and organizations to defend our rights – and to dismantle this system where the capitalists and the courts work hand in hand to continue to oppress and exploit us.