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Alturas Institute hosting event to discuss Ginsburg, her replacement and the future of the Supreme Court


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IDAHO FALLS – The death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is being discussed nationwide as President Donald Trump begins the process of selecting her replacement.

That conversation is the focus of a Facebook live event Wednesday night hosted by the Alturas Institute in Idaho Falls, a nonpartisan nonprofit devoted to advancing education about the U.S. Constitution. It’s called “Storm Center: Threats to the Court’s Independence as Trump Fills Justice Ginsburg’s Seat.”

David Adler, the organization’s president and founder, tells the title comes from Oliver Wendell Holmes, who referred to the Supreme Court as being at the center of the storm.

“That title captures perfectly what (we’ll be talking about) because the court has now become the center of attention,” Adler says.

The event will focus on the President’s role in nominating a Supreme Court Justice as laid out in the Constitution and whether the current administration is following that process.

RELATED | Alturas Institute to host Facebook live event tonight on the ‘Future of the Constitution’

Under the constitution, Adler says the President has the authority to appoint a Supreme Court Justice but it is up to the Senate to approve or deny the nomination.

“This is meant to be a thorough vetting process (because) … Supreme Court justices serve a lifetime appointment,” Adler says. “We’ve never had anybody approved and nominated for the Supreme Court in less than 75 days.”

According to the U.S. Senate’s website, President Bill Clinton appointed Stephen Bryer to replace Harry Blackmun on May 17, 1994. He was officially sworn in July 29, 1994 — 72 days after his nomination.

Adler says the decision to move forward with the selection process right after Ginsburg’s death and weeks before one of the most contentious presidential elections in history does not allow the Senate enough time to do its due diligence.

“The process is being rushed … and manipulated to serve the immediate political ends of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell,” Adler says. “McConnell is violating the very principle he established in 2016 when he refused to hold a hearing on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy created by the sudden death of Justice Scalia.”

Though he is critical of Trump’s administration, Adler says his role as a Constitutional scholar is to hold our leaders accountable by pointing out instances when they have abused or abdicated their authority. He says he has historically been more critical of democratic presidents, citing occassions where Clinton and Obama declared war with other nations. The Constitution grants that right exclusively to Congress, he says.

Ginsburg was a friend to The Alturas Institute and Adler first met her in July of 2017. He talked with her extensively for a book project about Reed vs. Reed, a landmark Supreme Court decision in 1971 that ruled an Idaho law unconstitutional because it preferred men over women in the administration of an estate.

Ginsburg wrote the brief for this case, which was presented to the Supreme Court. Adler says her involvement in this case set her career on a path to become “the Thurgood Marshall of the women’s rights movement.”

“She was very gracious to open her personal files to me,” says Adler. “Our interview lasted 90 minutes and what made it all the more amazing is that she didn’t sleep at all the night before. Her (flight) was delayed. She sat up and worked through various papers … pretty impressive for a woman who was 84 years old.”

Adler’s research will appear in an upcoming book called “See this Woman: Reed vs. Reed and the Struggle for Women’s Rights.”

Ginsburg was planning to be the headline speaker at The Alturas Institute’s annual event in Sun Valley this year called “Conversations with Exceptional Women.” It was eventually canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were looking forward to featuring her next summer, but she, unfortunately, fell ill and passed away,” Adler says. “We couldn’t have been more appreciative of her willingness to support Alturas.”

“Storm Center: Threats to the Court’s Independence as Trump Fills Justice Ginsburg’s Seat” will be streamed live on The Alturas Institute’s Facebook page at 6:30 p.m. A question and answer session will follow.

If you are unable to watch the live event, it will be available on-demand through the institute’s website or Youtube channel.