In the early evening on Sept. 26, President Donald Trump announced Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to take the now open seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. My friends and I sat in shock. She’s anti-abortion and has actually been called a “hero” for the Pro-Life movement. Chuck Schumer and other Democrats are worried about what her position will mean for the future of the Affordable Care Act, as talks on that are coming up in November. She’s also been deemed conservative enough to scrounge up the political support needed for Trump’s re-election bid. Especially from the conservative-evangelical section of his base, who’ll feel inspired by a Supreme Court Justice being secured in their favor.
Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein stated that Barrett has “a long history of believing that your religious beliefs should prevail.” This is a stark shift from the seat’s previous occupant, the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who was a woman to be honored and revered for what she did for the rights of women and many others.
“Mr. Trump could hardly have found a more polar opposite to Justice Ginsburg, a pioneering champion of women’s rights and leader of the liberal wing of the court,” The New York Times said.
But, as a woman who spoke up and fought for her own rights at the expense of loosening the control that the white androcentric view has on our entire society, RBG was not liked by all. Grand Old Party representative Doug Collins horrifically wrote on Twitter, just hours after the news was announced, “RIP to the more than 30 million innocent babies that have been murdered during the decades that Ruth Bader Ginsburg defended pro-abortion laws.” He continued, “with @realDonaldTrump nominating a replacement that values human life, generations of unborn children have a chance to live.”
To calm Collins, and others like him, Barrett was the choice. And that choice came just eight days after RBG’s death was announced, and just over 24 hours after her body was laid in the United States Capitol. I understand that there’s a rush; Having a fully-functioning Supreme Court is quite important in an election year. However, the Supreme Court has only been utilized in an election when the margins were razor-thin. For example, in 2000 with Bush v. Gore because the results were between just a couple hundred of votes in one state. Where the numbers are polling now, it looks like Biden might secure the victory with a large enough margin that the Supreme Court wouldn’t need to rule on anything, unless it’s against the unfair amount of time by which the ballots would need to be submitted. Such a case would be in Florida, where Senator Rick Scott is proposing that all votes need to be counted within 24 hours of the polls closing on Election Day.
The late RBG knew the importance of her position, and what her death may bring in this already politically charged era. She told her granddaughter, “my most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” The accuracy of this statement has been brought into question by President Trump. But I believe Justice Ginsberg knew how valuable her life was to the United States, and to the sanctity of those natural rights, and this statement had to have come from her.
See, politics are inherently hypocritical and biased. If you’re liberal you believe the Constitution should be interpreted one way, or if you’re a Republican it should look another. There’s now very little overlap between decisions. There is no longer any middle ground, so when I say quite firmly that I believe the Senate should wait until the election, I know there will be people who vehemently disagree with me.
The first point of argument in saying whether or not the position should be filled is the timing of an election in less than 35 days. Republicans believe that it’s their obligation, and right, to fill the seat with a more conservative-leaning justice before the election shifts the political demographic. Many of the more leading Republican senators are up for re-election this year; Thus, I believe part of their desperation for the spot to be filled is based less on what Barrett would support, and more on a need to convince their conservative base that they still deserve a job next year.
Though it’s doubtful that Mitch McConnell will lose his race, as the polls see his rival Amy McGrath trailing behind him, Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins are in a tougher fight to keep their seat. Graham actually hopped on Fox News on Thursday to talk about his race, “I’m being killed financially. This money is because they hate my guts.”
The money is also something that’s inspired Democrats, as the number of funds pouring in within the hours after RBG’s death completely smashed records. It’s a bit of a surprise from Democrats, as they very rarely get inspired by the Supreme Court. The Republicans are the ones to get all keyed up and motivated for the opportunity to nominate a Justice. Now that the Democrats have finally figured out how important it is, we’ll see if voter turnout changes at all, if Barrett isn’t already a seated Justice.
So what’s next for Democrats after the nomination? It would take four Republicans to flip and vote with the Democrats and the two independent senators. Yes, just four, but finding the four to flip against this new, go with the flow and make no noise, party is going to be impossible. A few brave Republicans have stepped forward to state their support for waiting until after the election. Susan Collins, predicted to lose her tight re-election campaign, has stated she’d vote against it. But, still, that magic number of four hasn’t been hit. So, Democrats have been forced to scramble for an alternative.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC as she’s popularly called, has floated the idea of increasing the amount of Supreme Court Justices. The idea would be to pack the Court with liberal Justices so the sheer amount overwhelms those nominated by Trump, and the other, more conservative, justices. I think this is an overstep, not fully thought through and just a generally poor idea. As, if the power shifts to the Republicans, then they will just do the same and we’ll be back at square one. But, now Barrett has been nominated with all of us watching in utter disbelief. Honestly, it will be less interesting to see if Republicans can actually fill the seat, as chances are, they will, than to see what tactics Democrats will utilize in attempting to block her nomination. In this new politically polarized world, when it comes to what Democrats will do to save the civil rights of Americans… all bets are off the table.