Election 2020

Leslie Marlin stood in front of a row of nondescript brick condominiums in Louisville’s Highlands neighborhood, the home of the city’s best-known politician, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It was the day after the news that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died from pancreatic cancer at age 87. Marlin held a sign with two lines of Sen. McConnell’s own words. 

“Oh, this is just the quote from Mitch McConnell from four years ago.” she explained. 

That quote, from February, 2016, was scrawled on a number of placards among the hundred or so demonstrators who had gathered here on Saturday afternoon. 

After Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in that presidential election year, McConnell said: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

Jeff Young | wfpl.org

Demonstrators at Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Louisville home.

McConnell blocked Senate consideration of President Barack Obama’s nominee, U.S. Court of Appeals Circuit Judge Merrick Garland. Shortly after Ginsburg’s death, McConnell pledged to quickly fill the Supreme Court vacancy even though, as Marlin noted, less than two months remain before Election Day. 

“Pushing through this nomination is just so hypocritical,” Marlin said.

Amid chants of “Ruth sent us,” and Ginsburg’s famous initials, “R.B.G.,” Alexis Rich said she felt a need to remind McConnell about what he said in 2016. 

“If he believes honestly that the American people should decide the next Supreme Court justice, then he should wait until after the election as he advised in 2016,” she said.

Rich said she first came to demonstrate silently with a few other neighbors in front of McConnell’s house on Friday evening after she heard the news of Ginsburg’s death. On Saturday she was back, this time with her daughter joining her.

“There are women who go first, and there are women who make that path,” she said. “To gain such notoriety in such a male dominated institution is something that’s good for me and good for my daughter.”

Jeff Young | wfpl.org

Louisville resident Sara Petruska in front of McConnell’s residence.

Next to Rich, Sara Pertuska stood wearing a white lace collar against her black top — a tribute to the collars Justice Ginsburg often wore with her robes. 

“This is actually a lace collar that my grandmother gave me,” she explained. “She was a big fan of women’s rights.”

Petruska also held a placard. It read, “May her memory be a revolution.”

 

Jeff Young is managing editor of the Ohio Valley ReSource, a journalism collaboration led by Louisville Public Media.