Granddaughter confirms Ginsburg’s dying wish: That Trump not fill her seat

Dispelling US president’s suggestions of Democrat plot, Clara Spera tells BBC she took down request from Supreme Court judge in the days before her death, verified she got it right

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves the stage after speaking to first-year students at Georgetown Law in Washington, September 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves the stage after speaking to first-year students at Georgetown Law in Washington, September 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

The granddaughter of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has confirmed that it was the US Supreme Court judge’s last wish that she not be replaced before a new president is elected in November.

US President Donald Trump had suggested the wish, reported by media, was made up by Democrats, and has made it clear he intends to ignore it, vowing to nominate a replacement by Friday.

Ginsburg, 87, the first Jewish woman appointed to the Supreme Court, died Friday from metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Her granddaughter Clara Spera told BBC Newshour in an interview on Monday that she had personally taken down the request from Ginsburg and verified with her that she understood it correctly.

“In the final days of her life, I asked my grandmother if there was anything she wanted to say to the public, to anyone, that wasn’t already out there,” recalled Spera, a lawyer.

Ginsburg said there was.

“I pulled out my computer and she dictated the following sentence to me. She said: ‘My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.'”

“I read it back to it and she was very happy with that,” Spera said. “When I asked ‘is that it, is there anything else you’d like to say?’ she said ‘the rest of my work is a matter of public record.’ So that’s all she wanted to add.”

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, center, poses with her family at the Court in Washington. From left are, son-in-law George Spera, daughter Jane Ginsburg, husband Martin, son James Ginsburg. The judge’s grandchildren Clara Spera and Paul Spera are in front, October 1, 1993. (Doug Mills/AP)

Spera said her grandmother had tried to keep politics out of the court and never expressed to her any regret at not stepping down to enable former US president Barack Obama to appoint a judge to the court in her place.

“My grandmother fundamentally was someone who believed in the institutions that she served and the fundamental institutions of American governance — the Senate, the House, the presidency,” she said. “For her, keeping politics out of the Supreme Court was a very important thing.”

Spera gave the interview the same day that Trump said Ginsburg’s wish could be a fabrication. It was not clear if the interview was conducted before or after the president’s remarks.

The wish has become a rallying cry for Democrats and other opponents of Trump, some of whom are still stinging from the Republican-controlled Senate’s moves to block a vote on a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia during the last year of the Barack Obama presidency.

Over the weekend, protesters chanted “honor her wish,” during a vigil for Ginsburg on the Supreme Court steps.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff said Monday Trump reached a “new low” for suggesting Democrats were behind a Friday NPR report about Ginsburg’s wishes for a delay in her replacement.

On “Fox & Friends” on Monday, Trump claimed without evidence: “I don’t know that she said that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff and Schumer and Pelosi,” referring also to Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Schiff later tweeted: “No, I didn’t write Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish to a nation she served so well, and spent her whole life making a more perfect union. But I am going to fight like hell to make it come true. No confirmation before inauguration.”

Trump has said he’s considering five women for the lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court. He said he plans to announce his decision Friday or Saturday.

Actor Mandy Patinkin appearing Sunday, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, on the MSNBC show “The Week with Joshua Johnson” with his wife, actress Kathryn Grody, blew a shofar as his way to help Ginsburg’s dying wish be heard.

Patinkin and his wife were discussing their get-out-the-vote efforts in the November 3 elections when Grody noted Ginsburg’s wish.

“And I want her wish to be heard, so I will blow the shofar for her,” Patinkin said.

He then blew a long and clear tekiya note in honor of the Supreme Court justice.

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