News/Op-Ed: Amy Coney Barrett Officially Confirmed, Sworn In As U.S. Supreme Court Justice

by Joshua Hernandez, Editor-In-Chief

After the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18th, President Trump announced the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett on September 26th to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court a mere thirty-five days before election day. On October 26th, Barrett was officially confirmed in a 52-48 vote by the Senate. 

Amy Coney Barrett (far left) completed her first of two swearing-in ceremonies at the White House Monday’s night after she was confirmed by the Senate, with Justice Clarence Thomas doing the honors alongside President Donald Trump.

In the immediate aftermath of Justice Ginsburg’s death, Democrats called for the Supreme Court seat to stay vacant until after the election was decided. The Democrats, as well as Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden, were sparked by Justice Ginsburg’s final statement on her deathbed, “My most fervent wish is that I not be replaced until a New President is installed.” 

After President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Democrats nationwide were outraged due to the proximity of the election, as well as the hypocrisy in which Senate Republicans acted once she was officially nominated to fill the vacancy. 

The outrage felt by Democrats was largely due to the fact that Republicans seemingly violated the precedent they established in 2016, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked hearings for then-President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia more than nine months before the end of President Obama’s term and the 2016 General Election. 

Furthermore, the official confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court means that President Trump and Senate Republicans have confirmed their third conservative justice in just four years, which has shifted the balance of the Supreme Court to the “right” for generations to come. Justice Barrett joins Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh as President Trump’s successful Supreme Court nominations.

A longstanding dispute has since arisen on whether Senate Republicans have politicized the federal courts and whether the Supreme Court should be politicized in the first place, as many Democrats fear that Justice Barrett will further advance President Trump’s agenda and work with her 5 Supreme Court Republican colleagues to declare the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare – unconstitutional, a desire that the Trump Administration has long carried to follow through with. 

Furthermore, Democrats have become fearful that Justice Barrett would rule in favor of President Trump should a situation arise with the election results such as in the highly contested, notorious 2000 Election between George W. Bush (R-TX) and then Vice President Al Gore (D-TN), which came down to the Gore Campaign contesting results in Florida – which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bush by blocking a recount in Florida, giving Bush all electoral college votes from Florida, and thus the Presidency. 

In a situation that can very well happen given the uncertainty in 2020, Democrats fear Justice Barrett and her Republican Justice Colleagues would rule in favor of President Trump over former Vice President Biden should such a situation arise, thus securing the President’s reelection. 

Despite the opposition from House and Senate Democrats, as well as 2020 Democratic Nominee for President Joe Biden, the Senate Republicans, led by Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Majority Leader McConnell pressed forward with confirmation hearings and, of course, the official confirmation vote, which has come a mere eight days before the 2020 Presidential Election.

The confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett – and the 35 days between her nomination and the presidential election – has marked the shortest span of time between a nomination to the Supreme Court and a presidential election in the history of the United States. 

The seismic, unforeseen shift in the balance of the Supreme Court to the right – and the increased proliferation, polarization, and politicization of the federal courts – have cemented themselves as defining points of contention in the conservative legacies of President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

As expected, all Senate Democrats voted against the confirmation of Justice Barrett, with only one Republican Senator – Susan Collins of Maine – joining the Democrats in voting against Barrett’s confirmation to the highest court of the land. 

On the flip side of the hot button issue, longtime Senator, former Vice President, and Democratic Nominee Joe Biden has consistently maintained that he does not support “packing the court”, a solution offered by many Democrats to expanding the number of justices and filling those vacancies with liberal justices in order to combat the shift of balance in the court brought upon by President Trump and Leader McConnell. 

However, in a 60 Minutes interview with Norah O’Donnell, Vice President Biden did state that if he were elected President, he would formulate a bipartisan commission to analyze the federal court system and make recommendations to Biden on how to reform the courts as a direct alternative for the progressive calls to “expand the courts”, which also may very well be an attempt by Biden to depoliticize the federal courts. 

Notwithstanding the foregoing information, it is critical to understand the fact that no matter what happens one week from today in the presidential election, nobody can reverse a Supreme Court Confirmation and remove a Justice simply as a political “gotcha”. Justice Barrett is here – no matter what America may think of her – and is here to stay for the next few decades.

Despite opposition from Democrats and growing speculation that Justice Barrett will serve as a tool for President Trump’s agenda on health care and the revoking of rights of LGBTQ people and women, one thing is clear – the power of the U.S. Supreme Court has shifted dramatically for the next generation due to the efforts of President Trump and Leader McConnell, and it may stay that way until a vacancy needs to be filled, barring any unforeseen changes to the federal court system by a potential Biden/Harris Administration.

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