Since the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, readers have used the comments sections of Opinion pieces to express not only their grief, but also their anger and fear about what her loss means for the future of the Supreme Court, the outcome of the U.S. presidential election and Democratic ideals in general. “It feels like the end of justice,” wrote M.K. in Germany. Marika H. in Santa Monica, Calif., wrote, “Our already-fragile democracy should have never depended on a single heartbeat.”
For Jeffrey Freedman in New York, the political implications could wait. “It is just a few hours since we learned about her death and a good percentage of the news is about replacing her,” he wrote Friday night. “I think we’ve lost something when we cannot spend even one day focused on mourning the loss of a very special American who was beloved by many.”
More comments from our readers follow. They have been edited for length and clarity.
‘A person of great righteousness’
The best gifts indeed come in small packages. This brilliant woman’s accomplishments were phenomenal. We speak of the glass ceiling; well, that lady broke a major part of it. For the last few years, I have had a little statuette of R.B.G. on my desk. I greeted her every morning when I sat to check the news, my emails. In the evening, I’d give a nod and say, “Hang in there, Ruth. We need you.” And although she has now soared to the The Great Beyond, she will live on, her legacy will live on. We must make sure that it does. — Kathy Lollock, Santa Rosa, Calif.
I did not expect to have such a visceral reaction to the passing of Justice Ginsburg. The news brought me to tears and a profound sense of loss has settled over me. The world has lost a gigantic intellect and a person of great integrity, enormous courage and boundless love for her family, her country and the rule of law. Few people leave such a legacy of service, integrity and love. — D. Creamer, Mountain West
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is irreplaceable. She was not just some reliable liberal vote on the Supreme Court. She did more than anyone in the history of the high court — first as an attorney before the court, then as a justice — to ensure that women’s fundamental rights under the Constitution were protected.
Justice Ginsburg is gone; what she embodied is not. — Robert Bornstein, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Few American leaders — and she was definitely a leader in her work — have left such indelible impacts on the greater good as Justice Ginsburg. Sharp-witted and unerring in her dedication to the law, one of my favorite stories that I read tonight was about a woman who had the honor to visit Justice Ginsburg in her chambers and gushed that her female friends just loved her. Ginsburg smiled and apparently replied, “I hope your male friends love me too.” — Clare, Nevada
According to Jewish tradition, a person who dies on Rosh Hashana is a “zaddik,” a person of great righteousness. Baruch Dayan HaEmet. R.I.P. Ruthie, you put up the good fight. — Dorothy, Evanston, Ill.
She decided to hang on and served ably and admirably until the very end. She failed to foresee (like almost everyone) that America would elect a person so utterly unqualified and devoid of principles and values to the highest office in the land. If she had known she surely would have retired during President Obama’s last term. When you consider the totality of Justice Ginsburg’s extraordinary life, if that’s the worst you can say about her, it ain’t much. — Mike, Florida
‘What else can 2020 take from us?’
This is such a double whammy. I am in shock and pain and furious at the same time. Can we even mourn R.B.G. before McConnell tries to ram a conservative through? No Supreme Court vote in an election year, he said in March of 2016. And here we are in September of another election year. And Trump may be a one-term president with three Supreme Court nominees. It’s maddening. — Will Rothfuss, Stroudsburg, Pa.
I have a message for the modern democracies of the world: Sorry, we won’t be joining you. That train left the station when Ms. Ginsburg passed. Our Supreme Court will be packed with corporatist ideologues for the foreseeable future. Even if we elect a Democratic administration, the Republicans will be able to stop them at every turn. Forget universal health care, labor representation on corporate boards or environmental restrictions on dirty industries. The next justice will be seated before the election. — Mlbex, California
We have lost a towering Justice in an era of woefully little men with black hearts and greedy souls. We have lost the finest. What else can 2020 take from us? This is the worst year in my very long lifetime. Justice Ginsburg you are sorely missed and were deeply loved and respected. Godspeed. — Mark Schlemmer, Portland, Ore.
‘We have to act as if the house is on fire.’
If the G.O.P. seats a sixth conservative justice, the Democrats will have no option but to expand the court should they take power. The West is burning, the South is drowning, NATO is failing and our constitutional democracy hangs by a thread. We don’t have time to play by the old rules or to worry about what the G.O.P. will do next time. Dems have been playing it careful and polite for far too long. We have to act as if the house is on fire. Because it is. — Ash, Oakland, Calif.
Packing the court would just begin a vicious cycle of one upmanship. Term limits are the obvious solution to dampen the political overtones that McConnell has installed. A politicized justice system will mark the end of whatever remaining faith people have that justice can be served objectively using a system of written laws. — Ben, Seattle
Though I may be an optimist, I think McConnell’s raw political power game will hurt the Republicans. It demonstrates as clearly as possible that the entire Republican Party (not just Trump) is willing to ignore law, tradition and precedent (all of which conservatives used to stand for) for political gain. It may energize his base, but they were pretty energized already. It will absolutely energize the Democrats. But it’s the people in the middle (few as they may be) that may hurt the Republicans. — Kent James, Washington, Pa.
‘I was devastated. Now I am emboldened.’
Tonight has been jarring: The headline I have feared for two years, the inevitable McConnell announcement. I was devastated. Now I am emboldened. Sad, but emboldened. The arc is long but it bends toward justice. The alternative is unthinkable. — Mike, New York
Our loss is overwhelming. Her courage gives me courage. Her strength gives me strength. Her dedication gives me the energy to honor her memory through action; and not only for this election. R.I.P.#R.B.G. — Vicki Hensley, Highland Park, Ill.
The old Republican world is actually the one dying. Justice Ginsburg’s ideals will prevail sooner or later. Be confident that the U.S. will someday again become a country the world envies. It might take time and patience but compassion and understanding will survive and thrive again. Citizens will find the peaceful means to resist and win the battle for a better country. — Dupuis, Paris
The Supreme Court is exactly what Republican voters were thinking of when they united to put Donald Trump in the White House, even if they had to hold their nose. Clinton was no prize, but the courts were worth the effort. Now that we’ve seen what a difference one election can make and how essential unity is, can we please pull together and get the Biden-Harris ticket over the finish line? — Annlinn Kruger, Bar Harbor, Maine
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