America Trained Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the Art of Dissent

I don’t like politicizing her death.

I hate it.

But, I’m doing it, because I can’t help it. That’s what happens when important people transition. I guess that’s what I gotta keep telling myself. But that’s also not fair to this old white lady.

And this old white lady been an old white lady, forever.

You know what? You know what she was, to us?

She was the old white lady, that old white teacher you didn’t grasp how much she injected progressive values in her teachings until you were paying the energy bill and shit. You know, the old white lady teacher who silently, as silent as the sound of her feet, helped shape your outlook. An outlook that is so precious and needed in 2020. And that outlook was created by that Work. Fuck, it’s not fair, because that Work is so necessary, right now.

But the Work she already put in is immortal.

And that Work will outlive all of us.

She always put in that work for us. Her opinions were everything. Legal Porn to a lawyer. Constitutional Porn to a scholar. Liberal Porn to a progressive. Whether you agreed or disagreed, her judicial opinions made you see her point of view, even if she respectfully called you an idiot for disagreeing with her. But see, she saved her best and most petty for when she lost.

She saved her best and most petty for WHEN. SHE. LOST.

You know why? Because she always lost. This country was made for her to lose. This country is setup for independent thinking women to lose. This country hates that shit. Even if you’re a white woman, this country hates that shit. And so, this country trained her. It trained her to lose. And that’s where the most important Work resides. It doesn’t reside in the cases she authored the majority opinion in, thus scoring, and obviously confirming, a monumental victory for liberal ideas.

Nah, son.

Her power and her immortality resides in the decisions she lost. You know, the same loss and failure this country trained her for. It trained her so well. So well, that she could author these powerful dissenting opinions that would outlive anything her powerful majority opinions did.

When the Supreme court , in Shelby County v. Holder, voted to ignore the entrenched racial voting rights disparities this country fully embraces in the hope of keeping alive it’s racist institutions, it killed the Voting Rights Act. The same Voting Rights Act that served as a remedy, of sort, especially the preclearance section of the Act. This Voting Rights Act, that our ancestors fought and died for, would name jurisdictions that had to pass federal scrutiny under the, and had to obtain “preclearance,” in order to pass any new election or voting laws. Those jurisdictions were selected based on their having a history of conducting racist ass activities for a racist ass long time. And y’all know how long a racist ass long time is.

That’s a long ass time.

“The sad irony of today’s decision lies in the court’s utter failure to grasp why the law has proven effective,” Ginsburg wrote. She continued, “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

In the employment discrimination case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., where an all male, 5-4 majority, decided that employers cannot be sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 over race or gender pay discrimination if the claims are based on decisions made by the employer 180 days ago or more, Ginsburg disrespectfully and RIGHTFULLY stated in her dissenting opinion that, “The court does not comprehend or is indifferent to the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination,” while arguing that discrimination often occurs in small increments over large periods of time.

When America decided on the Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate, America, of course, cleared the way for the Trump administration to expand exemptions for employers who have “religious” or “moral” objections to complying with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. In the dissent America taught her so well to write, she penned, “Today, for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree,” all while going through multiple rounds of chemotherapy.

In Bush v. Gore, when the Supreme Court took the election away from the hands of the American people, she objected to the majority’s decision to halt the recount in Florida. Cases like this and the Ledbetter decision, mentioned above, would be the foundations of her being known as a powerful dissenter.

“The Court’s conclusion that a constitutionally adequate recount is impractical is a prophecy the Court’s own judgment will not allow to be tested,” she wrote. “Such an untested prophecy should not decide the Presidency of the United States.” At the conclusion of that opinion, she allowed a rare breach of decorum and Court respectability, writing not “Respectfully, I dissent,” but, with a quiet petty, “I dissent.”

This woman knew the power of dissenting.

Because she knew the better, more petty dissent she wrote, the longer it would last. See, great dissenting judicial opinions are precious commodities. And that’s because these same or similar issues make their way back to the Supreme Court. And when it does, and if the judicial precedent is not on your side, these powerful dissenting opinions will be there, waiting for you. Waiting to help you argue your case. To help you prove that the same court deciding the constitutionality of this law was wrong, and here is why.

Her ideas, progressive ideas are often on the wrong side of judicial precedent. Progressive ideas require foresight, which is something most justices are not blessed with. But she was. She had it. It came natural to her. It wasn’t forced. Because she was trained. She had the foresight. She had whatever “it” is. And you know how she got it?

Because this country kept telling that she couldn’t have it.

Leslie McLemore writes about a lot of different shit for Black With No Chaser. He is also the Takeaway Kang and is the father of two beautiful girls, one of which gets on every nerve he has. The other one is sweet. So, you know, balance. 

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