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Further Consideration: Ruth Bader Ginsburg championed truth with vigor, intellect and integrity

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"RBG" poster (copy)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

I worry about things now that never used to cross my mind.

Truth, for example.

As a person of some age I learned a long time ago that, as Oscar Wilde said, “truth is rarely pure and simple.”

And I recognize the role of perspective in interpreting the truth. While some people see the glass as half-full and others, half-empty, both are certainly correct. Sadly, the fact that so many see the glass and its contents simply as belonging to themselves and no one else has become the story of our times.

But despite great philosophical discussions and mental masturbation about the existential qualities of truth, most thinkers, great and casual, adhere to the correspondence theory of truth, which tells us that the truth or the lack thereof is governed by how accurately something relates to and corresponds to the world.

A more elegant explanation, a la Thomas Aquinas, would be, “Truth is the adequation of things and intellect.” Less elegantly, it is what it is.

One of the greatest intellects of our time passed last week and thus we lost one of the noblest arbiters of truth in the history of our country.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg devoted the entirety of her life to protecting and clarifying fundamental truths as they relate to human rights in American culture and she relied on the American playbook, the Constitution of the United States, as her guide.

Whether it was privacy, equal pay, or protection of the right to love, do and be, Ginsburg approached these issues and more with bravery and selflessness. From her earliest battles when she first challenged the hegemony of the patriarchy, to the last years of her career when her adversaries grew to include a popular culture characterized by flat-earthers, science deniers and a president who metaphorically writes his own reference books of fact and fiction, Justice Ginsburg championed the sanctity of truth.

But unlike the president and his complicit conspirers who choose to snub or redefine the parts of the Constitution that prove to be obstacles in their quest for personal and corporate domination, Ginsburg treated the constitution as a living entity, deserving of respect, reverence, but mostly, meticulous scrutiny and comprehension.

Ginsburg didn’t merely try to change the law, she tried to change the way the Constitution was interpreted via a higher level of Constitutional review. And due to the enormity of her intellect and integrity, she was almost always successful

Cognizant of recent history when the Republican-dominated Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, refused for 293 days to entertain President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to associate justice of the Supreme Court, claiming in unprecedented fashion that in an election year the next elected president should fill the vacancy, Justice Ginsburg dictated her dying wish to her granddaughter, just days before her death, saying, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

South Carolina’s own senator Lindsay Graham famously said in 2018, “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait to the next election.”

Iowa’s senator Chuck Grassley said, “A lifetime appointment that could dramatically impact individual freedoms and change the direction of the court for at least a generation is too important to get bogged down in politics. The American people shouldn’t be denied a voice.”

Just four years ago, Senators Cruz and Rubio, along with more than a half-dozen others agreed, including Mitch McConnell, all of whom have now, in 2020, turned to the American people the other sides of their faces in order to deny the dying wish of one of the most revered jurists of all time.

How incredibly disrespectful it is that the memory of Justice Ginsburg, a giant of jurisprudence and truth, be denigrated by a group of lawmakers who are blatantly and with full knowledge of their actions contradicting their own words in order to push forth a political agenda and placate a would-be dictator intent upon hypnotizing his base by providing them with his own carefully cultivated rendition of truth.

Perhaps they should look to the words of President Lincoln who told us, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet a national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”

Cindi Boiter is a writer, editor and arts advocate. She is the founding editor of Jasper magazine and the Fall Lines literary journal and the executive director of The Jasper Project.