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Yesterday a divided Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, giving the country a ninth justice. The 48-year-old Barrett solidifies a conservative court majority for the foreseeable future, potentially opening a new era of rulings on abortion, gay marriage, and the Affordable Care Act, Lisa Mascaro writes for the AP. Here’s what both sides are saying about the confirmation:
On the Right: Frank Scaturro and Carrie Severino write for Fox News that, “October 26 [was a] milestone for the Constitution and the country. From the time of his first election four years ago, President Trump promised to appoint justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, jurists who embrace originalism and textualism. With the nomination of Judge Barrett, he kept that promise.” Scaturro and Severino said, “In an earlier era, someone with the qualifications and character of Barrett would have been confirmed by a unanimous or nearly unanimous vote… Not so in this era of a hyper-politicized judiciary, when the Democratic playbook is to treat courts as vehicles for policy.” Scaturro and Severino point to “Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., [who] showed perhaps more of his hand than he intended when he admitted, ‘It’s not about qualifications. It’s about what the American people need and want.’ For him, courts are about policy rather than law.” Scaturro and Severino add: “Of course, the number one reason this process was able to reach the brink of confirmation is the nominee herself. Judge Barrett’s qualifications, her brilliance, and her poise were on full display during the hearings. So was her commitment to constitutionalism and the rule of law. The American Bar Association gave her its highest rating, and no one could seriously disagree.” Scaturro and Severino conclude: “It is difficult to overstate the importance of the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to be the next associate justice. Besides being an outstanding jurist, she would give the Supreme Court its first originalist majority since the advent of the modern debate over constitutional law. That is a gift to the Court and the nation. It gives us a system better resembling a republic. To borrow Benjamin Franklin’s famous words, let’s hope we can keep it.”
On the Left: In an op-ed for the New York Times, Jamie Crooks and Samir Deger-Sen, “lawyers who clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, a lifelong conservative appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan, [said] rushing through a confirmation with an election underway threatens the very legitimacy of the court.” Crooks and Deger-Sen said Justice Kennedy taught them a “profound but often overlooked truth: The court’s influence extends only as far as its perceived legitimacy. As Alexander Hamilton put it, the judiciary ‘has no influence over either sword or the purse.’ If the court wants the people to obey its rulings, it must depend on ‘neither force nor will, but merely judgment.’ In other words, Supreme Court pronouncements are a dead letter unless the public accepts them as the law.” Pointing to past judgments from the Supreme Court “on race, abortion, gay rights, and campaign finance” along with historical moments like when “Al Gore conceded the day Bush v. Gore was decided” Crooks and Deger-Sen says “these decisions were understood to be final — not because the court is infallible, but because its judgments resulted from a process perceived as legitimate.” Now, however, with the “Republicans’ [decision to] hastily confirm Judge Barrett in the middle of an election, when a clear majority of Americans would prefer that Congress focus on the nation’s economic recovery, that earned legitimacy will be put in jeopardy.” Crooks and Deger-Sen say: “we don’t question the sincerity of [Barrett’s] promise to approach each case impartially. Our concerns run deeper — that regardless of how or why Justice Barrett would vote on the momentous issues that would come before her, the court’s decisions won’t be accepted.” In conclusion, they say: “We worry that a large swath of the nation, told a Democrat can’t fill a vacancy in an election year but a Republican can, will dismiss the court as yet another partisan body.”
Flag This: According to Pew Research Center, prior to the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “seven-in-ten U.S. adults said they had a favorable view of the Supreme Court.” Pew’s online survey also showed that “the largest share of Americans see the court as ‘middle of the road’ ideologically, rather than conservative or liberal.” In regards to constitutional originalism, “More than half of Americans (55%) said in the summer that the Supreme Court should base its rulings on what the Constitution ‘means in current times,’ rather than what it ‘meant as originally written.'” Finally, Amy Coney Barrett is 48, meaning “she is now the youngest member of the Supreme Court. Justices who are ages 45 to 49 when they take the oath have served for an average of 19.4 years.” Last week, a poll from Gallup showed that ” A slim 51% majority of Americans support federal judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat left vacant by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last month. At the same time, 46% of U.S. adults do not want Barrett to be seated, and 3% do not yet have an opinion of her nomination.” Gallup also notes that “The public’s initial support for Barrett’s confirmation is higher than either of President Donald Trump’s two previous nominees — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — had at any point prior to their confirmations.”