Dahlia Lithwick is furious about Republican attempts to appropriate Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s identity for the woman cynically selected to make life worse for American women from the bench:
Amid all of this grief, we are now subject to a turn to parody that is also cruelty. The White House rollout of Amy Coney Barrett as candidate for the seat has gone beyond erasing Justice Ginsburg’s legacy—they are stealing the trappings of that legacy and stripping it for parts. On Trump’s orders, CNN reported, the Rose Garden was deliberately done up to mirror precisely Bill Clinton’s announcement of Ginsburg’s nomination. There are now grotesque GOP T-shirts that imply that 60 years of unprecedented and brilliant legal advocacy by Ginsburg could simply be re-appropriated by someone else because she too is a woman in possession of three names. This comedic implication—that Judge Barrett is the natural inheritor of Ginsburg’s legacy—is depraved. As Donald Trump explained when he introduced her, Barrett’s work to dismantle Ginsburg’s legacy in abortion, health care, discrimination, and gun rights is to be construed as pro-women simply because a woman will be doing it. Even Judge Barrett’s own remarks relied on coopting Ginsburg’s reputation and legacy, as if the fact that one’s husband is the better cook is the only hallmark of female empowerment. Lack of originality is the hallmark of this administration: Like the Trump’s inauguration cake or Melania’s stolen convention speech, they routinely steal good things and then brazenly and cheaply repurpose them for opposing ends. It is infuriating not only because it is rank, immature trolling—it is infuriating because it is also a form of contempt.
In oral arguments in the Edie Windsor Defense of Marriage Act case in 2013, Justice Ginsburg coined the term “skim-milk marriage” to describe the not-quite-unions some claimed were as good as a genuine marriage. Skim-milk marriage was her word for a union that was an affront to the very thing it purported to be. This week, the White House has offered up a tour de force in “skim-milk feminism,” by suggesting that all women are so wholly fungible and interchangeable that the substitution of any woman for Justice Ginsburg is an act of feminism, even if she advocates for the polar opposite of Ginsburg’s constitutional efforts to raise everyone up to equality. Pop a crown on the head of Amy Coney Barrett and watch the Notorious RBG vanish as they attempt to claim that something that was earned is just another thing that can be stolen. How thin, how watery, how sad, and also how deliberately cruel to suggest that there is finally genuine gender equality in America because a woman is poised to do the work of reversing it.
Maintain that anger because this is a battle but afterward there will still be a war.