It was only a matter of time before liberals — who five short months ago were willing to lay down their lives, or at least their vital organs, to keep Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the bench — began berating the octogenarian for overstaying her welcome.
Now the first stone has been cast, by the left-leaning Mother Jones, which has piece that takes aim not only at the 85-year-old Ginsburg but at the “cult” (the author’s word) that defended her choice not to retire while Barack Obama was still in office.
Washington bureau staff reporter Stephanie Mencimer doesn’t waste many syllables before getting to the recriminations:
… [N]o amount of swag or hagiography can obscure the fact that, while Ginsburg is responsible for a great number of landmark legal decisions, her legacy may be sorely tarnished by one truly terrible one: refusing to retire when President Barack Obama could have named her replacement. That decision came into stark relief this month when Ginsburg fell and broke three ribs — and half of the nation took a collective gasp. Women took to Twitter to offer the justice a rib.
Last September I described Ginsburg as appearing frail at an event at George Washington University at which she sat slumped over during the much of the Q & A.
About a week before her latest fall, I sat through a pair of tedious Supreme Court arguments about arbitration, so I got to see the Ginsburg most Americans do not. She was engaged in the arguments, but her speech is increasingly difficult to understand. As has long been the case, people strained to listen when she asked a question — a hot bench went quiet.
When a Supreme Court session adjourns, the public isn’t allowed to depart until all the justices have left the bench. After the arbitration arguments were gaveled to a close, I got up to leave with the rest of the onlookers. But then everyone stopped. All of the justices had left except for Ginsburg, who was having trouble getting out of her chair. There was an embarrassed silence as members of the press, the bar, and the public tried not to gape as Ginsburg mustered the courage to descend a single step off the bench and finally disappeared behind the red curtain. The contrast between the real-world Ginsburg and the comic-book superheroine of social media was striking.
But the tone of the piece, which is never really sympathetic, turns accusatory again toward the end:
The RBG action figures and the pushup videos will be a paltry balm for the damage likely to be done to racial equality, LGBT rights, and reproductive freedoms if Trump is allowed to replace Ginsburg. By refusing to gracefully transition off the court when Obama could have named her successor, she has raised the very real risk of her seat being filled by someone who will spend a generation trying to undo all she worked for.
If that happens, RBG will become truly notorious.
With friends like this, who needs enemies?