OPINION: The US Senate must confirm Amy Coney Barrett


Photo obtained from The White House

In an White House ceremony on Sept. 26, Judge Amy Coney Barrett was introduced by President Trump as the official Supreme Court nominee.

By Chris Rysz, Editor-in-Chief

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sent shockwaves across America, adding another element to an already contentious election year: the fate of the Supreme Court. While President Trump has already nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett for Ginsburg’s seat, Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden and other prominent Democrats want to keep the seat open, with the intention of filling it after the election. However, with the direction of the Democratic party and multiple court packing threats, it’s imperative that Senate Republicans confirm the very qualified, Amy Coney Barrett. 

While the Supreme Court was intended to be the least political branch by our framers, the past 30 years has seen very contentious nomination battles, and this started with Democrats in 1987. President Ronald Reagan had nominated Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court and the Democrats threatened to oppose his opposition. According to the Cato Institute, it wasn’t Bork’s qualifications that were in question, but rather an ideological battle between the U.S. Senate and Judge Bork. In the end, Bork wasn’t confirmed, which caused a young Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to vow revenge when the Republicans took control. Now as Senate Majority Leader, McConnell is successfully using his position to execute this revenge. 

Since we’re so close to a presidential election, Democrats nationwide have called on Trump and Republicans to wait until after the presidential election, to nominate a new justice. They point to Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to hold a hearing for Obama-nominee Judge Merrick Garland as precedent to not confirm a justice before a presidential election. The truth is, elections have consequences and the Democrats have not held the Senate since 2014. I don’t care about unwritten precedents; it’s imperative for the future of America that a strong, conservative justice is nominated right now, especially with the current shift of the Democratic party on fundamental issues like immigration, health care and abortion.

Democrats have threatened to pack the courts which would be a power-grab for their agenda and drastically change the judiciary for decades to come. Specifically, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) tweeted following the death of RBG that “when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must…expand the Supreme Court,” according to The Atlantic. Even before RBG’s death, multiple 2020 Democrats didn’t shy away from this radical scheme including VP Nominee and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), as well as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). 

“We have to change this challenge head on, and everything is on the table to do that,” Sen. Harris said, according to Politico.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressed a similar sentiment when he discussed the Republicans’ attempt to fill RBG’s seat. 

“Nothing is off the table next year [if Republicans] try to fill RBG’s seat,” Sen. Schumer said, according to The Atlantic. 

Even presidential nominee Joe Biden hasn’t shied away from court-packing as he and his VP pick, Sen. Harris, have still refused to answer any questions on court-packing. When asked last Thursday, Biden basically said that the reason why he wouldn’t answer a question on court-packing is because…his answer would be reported in the news?

“You’ll know my opinion on court-packing when the election is over,” VP Biden said. “But you know the moment I answer that question, the headline in every one of your papers, will be about that.”

While the words echoed by these prominent Democrats are all different, the point and pattern is clear: Democrats haven’t shut down the idea of packing the courts. This constant pattern by prominent Democrats sets a dangerous precedent for America which is: if you’re not happy with the judicial philosophies in the Supreme Court, you can change it to favor your views. Isn’t this the same type of Supreme Court (with 9 justices) who integrated public schools, established the Miranda rights and protected the First Amendment.

Aside from the political implications of not confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the U.S. Senate and American people have to realize the center subject of this battle: the fact that Judge Barrett is an extremely qualified nominee. The good news is that the American people are starting to realize that as according to a Morning Consult poll, support for confirming Judge Barrett has gone up from 37 percent, on a Sept. 26 poll, to 46 percent, on a poll from Oct. 2 – Oct 4. Judge Barrett’s resume is a strong one as she had clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, and according to The New York Times, other clerks say that Barrett was his favorite clerk. 

Before being appointed on the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2017, she graduated from Notre Dame Law School in 2002, where she joined the faculty and still teaches today, according to The Federalist Society. If confirmed, Barrett would be the youngest justice sitting on the bench. Although Barrett appears to have a conservative judicial philosophy that could be on the bench for decades, she has earned respect from lawyers who disagree with her, according to the Los Angeles Times. Her colleagues at Notre Dame have this same sentiment as while some may not agree with her legal theory, she has certainly earned praise.

In addition, Barrett exhibits an extraordinary personal profile as she is a mother to seven with two of her children being adopted from Haiti and one having down syndrome. Barrett was also a finalist for Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s seat back in 2018. According to CNN, she has demonstrated conservative leanings in cases involving immigration, health care and abortion. This combination of a respected personal and professional life and a conservative record as a judge, prove Barrett to be a tough nominee for Democrats to block and a potential force on the Supreme Court for decades to come. In addition to Barrett being very qualified for the bench, it’s important to consider the consistent threats from Democrats’ to overhaul the judicial system, which is why it’s important to secure a conservative majority now more than ever.

Photo credit: “President Trump Nominates Judge Amy Coney Barrett for Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court” by The White House (flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/41383854372search.creativecommons.org/photos/60e24b59)