On September 18, 2020, legendary Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at the age of 87. But even before our nation had a chance to mourn her passing, the fight to fill her vacant seat began.
President Donald J. Trump, exercising his authority to nominate Supreme Court Justices, tapped conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett, and the Republican-led Senate confirmed her to the High Court in record time. But her appointment was met with fierce resistance throughout the country.
Many debates focused on whether or not a justice should even be voted on so close to a presidential election (which was just two months away). For example, in the last year of President Barack Obama’s presidency, the Senate refused to even hold a hearing on his Supreme Court nomination during an election year (even though the election was roughly eight months away).
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) even said at the time “I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.” Democrats are now angry that Republicans are backing away from that statement.
Many believe that although the hypocrisy was clear, it didn’t matter because the Republicans have the majority.
7th Grade history teacher Mr. McDermott said, “It’s going to happen, no matter what.” Mr. McDermott worries that if Trump has one more conservative justice he will be able to push the election decision to the Supreme Court, similar to what happened 20 years ago, with Bush v. Gore. “Simply because…I really want the winner to be decided by the people, and by the people’s votes”.
8th grade English teach Mr. Parcham agreed: “[The Senate is] going to go forward with the confirmation of Justice Barrett.” But he added that “I think, if [Amy Coney Barrett] passes [in the Senate], then people will say ‘I don’t need Donald Trump anymore in my life.” He thinks that even though Trump got Comey on the Supreme Court, it wasn’t enough to sway voters in the presidential election. “I feel like an overwhelming majority of the people already [had] their opinions on the two candidates,” he said.
Now the makeup of the Supreme Court gives conservatives a 6-3 majority which could impact many important issues in this country for years to come, including Roe v. Wade, a case from 1973 which guaranteed reproductive rights for women but remains controversial even today.
“As somebody who studies history and doesn’t like it when history necessarily repeats itself…I’m worried a little bit about just, heading in backwards,” Mr. McDermott said.
And Mr. Parcham is also concerned about what the future may bring. “I think the fact that there is such an aggressive fight…between Democrats and Republicans, Conservatives and Liberals, Left or Right, shows just how politicized the Supreme Court is, and it was never meant to be that way,” he said.