The United States Postal Service recently announced plans to release a new Forever stamp featuring the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
You will recall the controversial Justice died on September 18, 2020. Justice Amy Coney Barrett succeeded her after a spirited confirmation battle.
In announcing the stamp’s release set for October 2nd, the postal service lauded the Brooklyn, N.Y., native for her “groundbreaking contributions to justice, gender equality and the rule of law.” The Post Office’s PR department went on to say that “the stamp captures her enduring spirit and tireless dedication to upholding the principles of the Constitution.”
Never mind that those so-called constitutional principles regularly changed in Justice Ginsburg’s mind according to the case before the High Court. By her standards, the United States Constitution was a living and breathing document – its words meant what she wanted them to mean in the moment.
A radical supporter of abortion, the “notorious RBG,” as she was affectionately referred to by her fellow zealots, went on to say that a woman’s “right” to kill her baby was “something central to a woman’s life, to her dignity.”
Nevertheless, that Ruther Bader Ginsburg will be featured on a postage stamp isn’t very surprising. Over the years, more than 800 people have been similarly honored – personalities ranging from Susan B. Anthony (1936) and Johnny Appleseed (1966) to Ella Fitzgerald (2007) and Fred Rogers (2018).
But it does beg the question: Justice Ginsburg died in 2020. Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in 2016. Will the United States Postal Service be extending a similar tribute in “Nino” Scalia’s honor?
When President Ronald Reagan nominated Justice Scalia to the High Court in 1986, The New York Times characterized the first Italian to be nominated and confirmed as a man with “tenacity and charm” and noted that he loved debate, poker, and piano.
That initial love from the Times faded over the years as Justice Scalia’s decisions made clear of originalism bent and fidelity to the United States Constitution as it was written by the Founders.
Over the years, the U.S. Postal Service has previously commemorated five other Supreme Court justices – Joseph Story (nominated by President James Madison), Louis D. Brandeis (nominated by President Woodrow Wilson), Felix Frankfurter (nominated by President Franklin Roosevelt), William J. Brennan Jr. (nominated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower), and Thurgood Marshall (nominated by President Lyndon Johnson).
It should be noted that not even Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman justice, has yet to be honored on a postage stamp.
Time will tell if the late Justice Scalia’s image will one day adorn a postage stamp. If it does, as it should, you can be sure many of us will happily buy them up and honor the remarkably brilliant and principled man whose extraordinary legal mind and consequential life served his nation so well.
Photo from Getty.