The Dangers of Amy Coney Barrett’s Appointment

In the morning of October 27, Amy Coney Barrett was officially sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, the third appointment to the Court under Trump. Her appointment comes after a month of partisan debate and just days before the 2020 election. (Photo is public domain)

Tuesday, October 27 Amy Coney Barrett, the conservative judge appointed by Trump after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, was officially sworn in as a Supreme Court justice just days before the presidential election.

This follows the Senate vote on Monday where she was confirmed by a highly partisan vote of 52-48 with no Democrat support whatsoever– something that hasn’t happened since the 1800s. Her addition to the Court shifts it to a 6-3 conservative majority, leading many concerned people to worry about the threat a majority conservative judicial branch poses to citizens’ rights.

Barrett’s appointment becomes extremely concerning to many when looking at the docket of cases meant to be heard by the Supreme Court soon. Although she’s deflected a lot of questions on her positions in certain cases, it seems obvious based on her background and worldview how she’ll swing.

One case, Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar, should be most concerning considering the importance of the presidential election.

In it, the Pennsylvanian GOP argues that mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day should not be counted. According to Vox, their position is that “only the state’s Republican-controlled legislature — not the state Supreme Court or some other body — is allowed to determine how Pennsylvania chooses presidential electors.” This poses a massive threat to voting rights by setting a dangerous precedent that state legislative branches have exclusive control over the electoral process.

As Vox points out, “although every state has a law providing that the state’s electoral votes will be decided in a popular election, the Constitution does not actually require such an election… it provides that ‘each State shall appoint’ presidential electors ‘in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.’” Therefore, going off of the GOP’s logic, legislatures could potentially overrule voters or tip the scales in close calls — something highly concerning especially for swing states.

However, the Court decided on Wednesday October 28 to push back their review of the case until after Election Day, a decision that Barrett did not take part of “because of the need for a prompt resolution of it and because she has not had time to fully review the parties’ filings,” according to AP. While it won’t be relevant to this year’s election, any ruling they eventually decide might affect future presidential elections.

Another important case meant to be heard in early November is California v. Texas, another attempt by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare — which over 20 million Americans currently rely on for coverage. The case against it is so laughably flimsy it seems insane to even consider; however, it would be the perfect opportunity for conservatives to strike down the big bad Obamacare that they’ve been grumbling about for years now. While many well-informed people can see that legally speaking the case is ridiculous, it’s hard to laugh at the situation knowing what effects a conservative decision could have on people’s lives, especially during the current pandemic.

Other issues the Court plans to address include whether or not undocumented immigrants should be included in the census — and thus whether they lend themselves to House seat apportionment — as well as cases on union-busting and a reconsideration of Obergefell v. Hodges, the case giving same-sex couples the right to marry.

The case became relevant again at the beginning of October when Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Alito called for the decision to be overturned, declaring that it “enables courts and governments to brand religious adherents who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman as bigots, making their religious liberty concerns that much easier to dismiss,” going on to call same-sex marriage “a novel constitutional right” that will have “ruinous consequences for religious liberty” because god forbid the poor Christians aren’t allowed to discriminate against people like they used to in the good ol’ days.

A bigot can’t even be homophobic these days without someone trying to label them as hateful and ignorant– what a shame.

Barrett, who has expressed disagreement with the 2015 Obergefell decision, stands to join these two conservative judges along with the other three conservatives on the court, which would be no surprise considering how open she’s been about her traditional Catholic beliefs.

Additionally, Barrett identifies herself as an originalist (ew), meaning that she believes that the Constitution should be interpreted as what the text meant when it was first ratified. Some may argue that originalism is good because it requires judges to stick to the concrete language of the Constitution, but I would argue that originalism is — in most cases — used by people as an excuse to skirt progress. Also, the inherent vagueness of a lot of the Constitution’s language hinders this idea that the original text has defined or objective interpretation to guide judges.

The background to her appointment is more of the same stuff we’ve been seeing for years now — Republicans unabashedly being complete hypocrites and Democrats being complete failures at stopping said Republicans. Even though Democrat leaders promised that they’d fight tooth and nail and “use every arrow in [their] quiver” to stop the proceedings, they didn’t seem to ever really act on that.

It’s sort of amazing — rather, horrifically depressing — how in the middle of a pandemic with thousands dead, more getting sick, and millions unemployed and homeless, Congress chooses this to be the only thing they’re able to do quickly and competently.

Amidst the conflict over Amy Coney Barrett is the discussion of the future of the Supreme Court. Democrats want to pack the court, adding more justices to the Supreme Court to change the balance.

This is just as, if not more so, exhausting and disheartening as the Kavanaugh appointment in 2018 with Republicans being absolutely unbearable to listen to and Democrats being virtually useless to put up any sort of fight past saying some stern words. The current political situation just serves to highlight and exacerbate issues that have been around for years, issues that will likely continue until we get enough sense to burn it all to the ground and start over, I guess.


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