On Sept. 18 Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) passed away from complications of pancreatic cancer, starting a political battle over her empty seat.
A justice seat is filled by the president nominating someone and the Senate confirming them as the new justice, and with a Republican controlled presidency and Senate, this could mean a conservative judge could fill Ginsburg’s seat.
SCOTUS was roughly split between liberal and conservative justices, so the new judge could tip the court to a conservative majority. All information on the events that have transpired since Ginsburg’s passing was compiled from cnn.com from their daily updates on the SCOTUS seat battle.
On the night of Ginsburg’s death, many people started to mourn the influential political figure, but before the night was over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that President Donald Trump’s
nominee will be voted on before the election.
Many Democrats urged the GOP senators to not vote on a justice replacement like they did for Barack Obama’s nominee in 2016, but Republican members of government quickly organized to try and push through the nominee before the election.
On Sept. 26 Trump announced his nominee: Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative federal appellate judge and former law professor at Notre Dame University. Barrett was welcomed by the Republican party, but Democrats see her as a threat to abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act. Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham announced the next day that confirmation hearings for Barrett were scheduled to start in mid-October. She could be voted on by the Senate just before the election.
On Sept. 29 Barrett started meeting with GOP senators and seemed to make good impressions, but now her quick confirmation may be jeopardized. On Oct. 2 Trump announced he tested positive for COVID-19, and three GOP senators tested positive in the next few days. It is thought that they may have all been exposed at Barrett’s nomination ceremony. Dr. Jason Rich, INTA lecturer at Tech, weighed in on the importance of the SCOTUS seat and how it could affect the upcoming election.
“You’re more apt to get conservative turnout around this idea of paying back a president or senator that has confirmed yet another Supreme Court Justice,” explained Rich on how the seat could drive conservative voters to the polls. He also explained how “[the justice] has real long lasting impacts” since the relatively young Barrett can sit on the bench for life.
He also commented on how Democrats have few ways to delay Barrett getting confirmed, but if too many GOP senators become infected with COVID-19, it may be enough to halt the confirmation. This could push her confirmation vote after the election or even the new year.
Rather than mourning a legal titan’s passing, the country has been embittered by the political urgency necessitated by the upcoming election. Only time will tell what the outcome of this political scramble is, and in what ways it will affect America in the next few weeks, months or years.