Newly Appointed Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett Stirs Up Trouble

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AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Amy Coney Barrett being sworn in to the Supreme Court on October 26, 2020.

On October 26, 2020 Judge Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to fill the late Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s seat on the Supreme Court. The country has been severely divided between the left and the right, and with RBG’s passing, tensions heightened on both sides. This situation isn’t unprecedented, as we remember back in 2016 to the passing of Judge Anthony Scalia leaving an empty chair on the Supreme Court. However, the way the 2016 proceedings went, or rather didn’t, is cause for great speculation over the great divide between Democrats and Republicans, especially within the Senate, and highlights the lack of bipartisan cooperation and relations in our government.

Anthony Scalia passed away in February of 2016, which left the President and the Senate about 8 months to nominate and proceed with hearings to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice. The majority party in the Senate has been Republican since 2015 and there have been many times where they have blocked judges that President Obama tried to appoint, including his Supreme Court Justice nominee. This is an example of party politics, where the politicians in office look to promote their political party rather than support the American public.   And this issue has been seen on both sides, not just the Republicans — they just happen to have held the power in the Senate for the past 5 years. Following Scalia’s death, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland who is considered to be pretty moderate on issues and has been praised by individuals both on the left and right. He was well qualified, being the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. When presented with this nomination, Majority leader Mitch McConnell said that any appointment by President Obama would be null and void because the next President should decide. McConnell clearly stated his feelings: “The American people are perfectly capable of having their say on this issue, so let’s give them a voice. Let’s let the American people decide. The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next president nominates, whoever that might be.” No proceedings were even held for Judge Garland, and there was an empty seat left on the Supreme Court for over 8 months.

After the 2016 election, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch on January 31, 2017 who was then confirmed on April 7, 2017. This occurred within a 5 month span. Touching back on party politics, many Republicans were pushed to vote for Trump in the 2016 election because they knew that he would appoint a justice who reflected their party’s views. Further showing the immense strength of party politics, Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh, a man of much controversy in regards to rape allegations and photos in Blackface, to the Supreme Court in 2018. Kavanaugh strengthened the conservative power on the Supreme Court, which was then solidified with the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett. She was officially nominated on September 26, 2020. Election day is November 3, which gave the Senate a little over a month to hold hearings and vote. Judge Barrett was confirmed on October 26, which was just 8 days before the 2020 presidential election. On that date, there were over 60 million people who had already cast their votes.

Taking into consideration the exact words of Majority leader Mitch McConnell, “let’s let the American people decide,” why did they push for Trump’s nominee just 8 days before the election? This is the direct influence of party politics and fear of the empty seat being filled by a more liberal justice who may not always side with Republican beliefs. This isn’t new to our government, however a decision like this regarding a Supreme Court Justice holds a serious level of gravity.  The lifelong job will require rulings on significant issues, such as the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade, which will have immense ramifications on the American people.

Our country is more than just red or blue, left or right. Trump has brought out the extremes in America and furthered the divide between the two leading political parties. Of course, party politics have been influencing and corrupting our government preceding the Trump administration; we have been presented with such blatant examples under his presidency, as well as President Obama’s, that are too obvious to avoid noticing. As George Washington warned America in his farewell address, political parties divide the nation and now we see that it has prevented our government from doing its job justly.