With the Presidential Election drawing near as well as Supreme Court elections and re-elections, Capitol Hill is a scene of tension.
Following the death of former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Trump moved forward to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to take Ginsburg’s seat. This has brought an abundance of controversy, as Ginsburg’s dying wish was for her seat to not be filled until the next president took office.
When Justice Antonin Scalia–whom Barrett clerked for and called her “mentor”–died in 2016 while serving on the Supreme Court, President Barack Obama received backlash from Senate Republicans. They refused to hold confirmation hearings for Obama-nominated Judge Merrick Garland, claiming it was improper to do so in an election year.
President Trump–the then-Republican presidential nominee–pushed for Obama to not make any major decisions regarding the Court at the end of his presidency.
The day after Ginsburg’s death, President Trump contacted Barrett regarding the vacancy. He formally offered her the position on Sept. 21.
“I think the timing is disgusting,” said Salem Gray (‘23). “[Ginsburg’s] final wish was that the next president be the one who chooses the next Supreme Court Justice. If Trump respected her at all, he would have left the choice to whoever won the election.”
Others hold similar beliefs regarding the timing of Barrett’s nomination.
“I think that Donald Trump refusing to wait until after the election to pick someone is suspicious since he insisted on President Obama waiting to recommend when the last justice died,” said Amelia Earl (‘22).
The quick turn-around following Justice Ginsburg’s death isn’t the only thing that has brought tension to the Court. Barrett’s views have also been controversial.
“[Barrett] holds very controversial and conservative views, especially about abortion and a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body,” said Gray. “I think that she’s a threat to a woman’s bodily autonomy and minority rights.”
Many people are concerned that if Barrett is appointed to the position with the Court, her views will largely affect the Court. As of right now, five of the justices were appointed by Republican presidents and three by Democratic presidents.
“While I appreciate that [Trump] is recommending a woman, her views are the opposite of [Ginsburg’s] and I think she will make the Court too uneven in terms of political alignment,” said Earl.
Trump vowed to appoint justices that will be ready to overrule Roe v. Wade, the decision made in 1973 that states that a pregnant woman has the Constitutional right to an abortion if she so chooses. Barrett’s record shows that she votes almost uniformly conservative when it comes to her views on gun rights, healthcare, discrimination, immigration and, as previously stated, abortion.
Not only is Roe v. Wade potentially threatened by Barrett’s nomination, but Barrett has also been vocal about her qualms with the Affordable Care Act.
The Senate Judiciary Committee began its confirmation hearing with Barrett on Oct. 12. While here, Barrett was questioned heavily on her views of the Affordable Care Act, as she was quoted in 2017 saying that Chief Justice John Roberts “pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.”
Barrett was quick to say that she has no hostility toward the Affordable Care Act, and that she will judge independently and without a personal agenda. Still, Senate Democrats use her public personal beliefs as a driving force against her.
Barrett’s confirmation hearings are set to commence with a vote to come, but Senate Democrats are hoping to push the vote back to Oct. 22.