Nothing that Republicans said in the wake of the sad news of Justice Ginsburg’s death should have come as a surprise. This moment was a long time coming, as I explained at New York:
Most mainline anti-abortion organizations and politicians had the decency, or at least the self-discipline, not to celebrate openly at the news of Justice Ruth Bader’s Ginsburg’s death on Friday night. For example, the hard-core anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List put out this statement:
“We offer our sincere condolences to Justice Ginsburg’s children, grandchildren, extended family, friends, and colleagues. The prayers of the Susan B. Anthony List team are with her family, as well as for our nation, at this time.”
But that didn’t keep the group’s chair from acknowledging an urgent call to arms in virtually the same breath:
“This is a turning point for the nation in the fight to protect its most vulnerable, the unborn. The pro-life grassroots have full confidence that President Trump, Leader McConnell, Chairman Graham, and every pro-life Senator will move swiftly to fill this vacancy.”
Similarly, Christian-right leader Franklin Graham tweeted, “Pray for the family of SCOTUS Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who passed away today. May God comfort her loved ones.” But he’s mostly focused on preparing for a Washington Prayer March on September 26, where I am sure the upcoming SCOTUS confirmation fight will be on many hearts and minds.
Perhaps the most intellectually baroque anti-abortion argument on the occasion of Justice Ginsburg’s death was from New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, who suggested depoliticizing the Supreme Court by withdrawing its jurisdiction over such matters as abortion policy:
“[F]or many conservatives the high court eviscerated its own authority decades ago, when it set itself up as the arbiter of America’s major moral controversies, removing from the democratic process not just debates about sex and marriage and school prayer but life and death itself.”
But congressman and current U.S. Senate candidate Doug Collins of Georgia was about as subtle as a hammerhead shark:
“RIP to the more than 30 million innocent babies that have been murdered during the decades that Ruth Bader Ginsburg defended pro-abortion laws. With Donald Trump nominating a replacement that values human life, generations of unborn children have a chance to live.”
Challenged by an Atlanta reporter for his lapse in etiquette in not preceding this attack with some token of respect for Ginsburg and her service to her country, Collins was having none of that:
“’I will never back [down] on life. It’s very personal for me. The truth was about being honest about where we’re going and what the president’s going to do,’ Collins said. ‘Sometimes in life, there’s just polite, and there’s just the truth. That was the truth.’”
Collins is locked in an intense competition with appointed Republican senator Kelly Loeffler, characterized by mutual efforts to out-Trump each other (Loeffler just ran an ad suggesting she is “more conservative than Attila the Hun”).
In the fever swamps of Christian-right opinion, commenters were far less diplomatic about Ginsburg’s death, expressing a blasphemy-risking willingness to credit God Almighty for smiting Ginsburg and giving Trump the opportunity to ban abortion. Peter Montgomery at Right Wing Watch has a good example:
“A group of ‘prayer warriors’ associated with the pro-Trump ‘prophetic’ network POTUS Shield is celebrating the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an answer to prayer and a miraculous ‘move of God’ to allow President Donald Trump to name a third Supreme Court justice in his first term. Trump-supporting religious-right supporters have often prayed for God to ‘remove”’Supreme Court justices to give Trump the ability to name justices to the court who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
“POTUS Shield founder Frank Amedia, a former Trump campaign adviser, prophesied early in Trump’s presidency that God would give Trump three Supreme Court justices in his first term. Amedia has also been talking for months about a ‘prophetic’ dream he had in which he saw Trump sinking into a swamp until God reached down and with his thumb and forefinger plucked Trump out by the head, flinging him in the air. Amedia predicted this divine intervention would take place in September, and on Sunday, he called Ginsburg’s death ‘the first breath’ of the prophesied ‘blast’ that God has in store. ‘The blast has just begun,’ Amedia exulted….”
What all these opponents of legalized abortion have in common is that they don’t give a damn about the hypocrisy of Senate Republicans blocking Merrick Garland in 2016 and rushing through a Trump nominee this year. Indeed, they would be in the streets protesting furiously if Mitch McConnell or Trump hesitated a moment before taking advantage of this opportunity to “save the babies.” This is holy war, and the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation fight is Armageddon. And even if their own interest in the topic is limited, nearly all Republican members of Congress have signed on to the reserves in this battle by taking a position opposing abortion rights and accepting the loyal support of those who are avid to turn back the clock for good.