Amy Coney Barrett – Barrett’s bench seat concludes a controversial and expedited trial derided by Democrats “sham” for occurring while voting was underway. President Donald Trump announced his intention to appoint Barrett in late September. The Senate has expedited his appointment and completed the entire process in 30 days, the second shortest confirmation from a Supreme Court judge since the Ford administration. The fastest confirmation came to the late Judge John Paul Stevens after 19 days.
While there is precedent for confirmation of Supreme Court justices during election years, Barrett is making history because he is confirmed as the closest to a presidential election with just eight days to go. In 2016, the Republican majority retained former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court candidate, declined to hold hearings, and began a confirmation process because the country was months away from presidential elections. But this time, Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was reversing the Democrats’ allegations of hypocrisy. They said that they would work tirelessly to get Barrett’s confirmation ahead of the election, reinforcing their work to overhaul the federal justice system since Trump came to power.
Democrats were united in their opposition to a confirmation that was happening so close to the presidential election. They tried to block the process and even boycott the vote to advance Barrett’s nomination by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Still, they recognized that they had limited resources to push back in the minority and that Barrett’s confirmation was always on track.
Barrett, who compared her legal philosophy to that of his former boss, the late Judge Antonin Scalia, will be sworn in at an open-air ceremony at the White House Monday night and will be sworn in by Judge Clarence Thomas. The latest ceremony to celebrate Barrett sparked a backlash from the Democrats after Rose Garden’s announcement of her nomination became a “super-spreader” event. Several attendees tested positive for coronavirus after a few social distances, and fewer participants are wearing masks. Trump and his family pushed festive five days later, although it is unknown exactly how or where they got it.
Barrett’s confirmation will have significant repercussions for the court, which will now have a 6-3 conservative block. She is a devout Catholic and former law professor at the University of Notre Dame who, in a personal capacity, has taken positions against abortion. As a seven-year-old mother, she also becomes the first judge to leave school-age children on the Supreme Court.
Democrats are incredibly frustrated with Barrett’s appointment to fill the Ginsburg seat, heralded on both sides of the aisle – as an icon and trailblazer for women’s rights. At the confirmation hearings, Democratic senators have repeatedly expressed concerns about what Barrett’s nomination would mean for women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and health care.
But Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham considered Barrett’s confirmation a significant milestone for conservative women who rarely see themselves reflected in government.
Barrett’s nomination could significantly impact upcoming historical cases and potential electoral disputes that could arise after November 3 arrives before the Supreme Court.
He will sit in time to hear discussions about the Affordable Care Act’s fate on November 10, a week after the election. At issue is the individual mandate – the obligation for Americans to buy health insurance or be fined – and whether it’s constitutional after Congress canceled it in 2017. The lawsuit, supported by the Trump administration, argues that the whole law should fall because the mandate is declared invalid.
Democrats rallied predominantly around the ACA, and coverage extends to individuals with pre-existing conditions as they protested Barrett. They pointed out that Trump had pledged to nominate only Supreme Court candidates who would vote to dismantle the Obama-era health bill. And they pointed to Barrett’s writings that criticized past ACA decisions.
But Republicans, who have protested the ACA for the past decade and fought for the repeal and replacement of the law, downplayed the threat posed by the current Supreme Court case, arguing that the entire law goes down. And for her part, Barrett insisted he didn’t have a program and wasn’t “hostile” to the law.
Referring to McConnell’s 2013 remarks on Democrats ending filibustering of justice candidates, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday, “I would change just one word. My colleagues may regret this for a lot longer than they think.”