In a controversial vote, Amy Coney Barrett has been confirmed to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court in a partisan 52-48 vote.
Barrett’s confirmation, which was voted on last night, comes just 8 days before election day, with the Biden camp calling for the vote to be postponed until after the election due to the fact that “more than 60 million Americans have already voted”.
The vote was controversial because Amy Coney Barrett was rushed through, only being selected as the nominee by President Trump last month, despite the fact that in 2016, the Republican’s held up voting on Barack Obama’s nominee until after the election.
Senate Minority leader for the Democrats, Chuck Schumer, stated that by going ahead with the vote so close to the election the Republican majority was “lighting its credibility on fire”.
In 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia passed away 8 months before the election, with Barack Obama nominating Merrick Garland to succeed him. Despite the election being 8 months away, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold a confirmation hearing and upon Donald Trump taking office, held a vote to appoint Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court instead.
Democrats had been calling on Republicans to delay the hearing due to the new precedent they had set in 2016, but despite the passing of Justice Ginsburg being just two months from election day, the Republican-controlled Senate rushed through Barrett to America’s top bench.
Some Democrats had been hoping that moderate Republicans, facing difficult elections next week, would vote against the nomination in favour of giving their constituents a voice, but the vote ended up being split along partisan lines.
Before passing, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had called for her replacement to not be selected until after Americans had their say at the ballot box;
“[My] most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Barrett is not just a controversial pick for the Supreme Court due to the perceived unfairness of her nomination, but for many of her conservative views, such as an opposition to women’s ‘right to choose’, which although she has never ruled on, she has expressed her views on.
In a 1998 Marquette Law Review article she co-wrote she stated the church’s views on prohibiting abortion and euthanasia are “absolute” because they “take away innocent life.” This has raised concerns that she would vote to overturn Roe vs Wade (a landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that enshrined women’s abortion rights) should a case be brought before the court.
Her appointment gives the Supreme Court a 6-3 conservative lean, with 3 of the current justices being nominated by President Trump, an unprecedented number in just a four years term.
In eight years, Obama had appointed just two: Elena Kagan and Sonya Sotomayor.
Amy Coney Barrett has also considers herself a constitutional ‘traditionalist’, meaning that in cases of judicial review (where the court decide on whether legislation conflicts with the US Constitution) she would favour an approach that attempts to interpret the constitutional framer’s views on modern-day issues, rather than applying the text to modern-day scenarios.
This means that she is staunchly in favour of the second amendment, likely opposing any legislation that would aim to control firearms within the United States, and would likely oppose Obamacare should the act come before the court again. The court ha previously upheld the decision before the make-up of the court had changed so drastically.
Barrett is also likely to be an opponent to gay marriage, which was guaranteed in 2013 following a landmark ruling in the Supreme Court case, Obergefell vs Hodges. The ruling meant that marriage equality existed across the United States, however, should the issue come before the court again, Trump’s three justices of Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, would all likely vote to overturn the decision.
Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in at the White House last night, with President Trump alongside her at an in-person event. Last month an event to announce Barrett as the nominee was linked to a large Coronavirus outbreak amongst White House staff.
Speaking at the event, Barrett declared:
“A judge declares independence not only from the Congress and the president but also from the private beliefs that might otherwise move her.
“The judicial oath captures the essence of the judicial duty: the rule of law must always control.”