Conflict over new justice following death of RBG

Theo Parr, Writer

After the death of one of the most influential justices in the history of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there are many questions as to what will come of the open spot. A similar situation occurred in 2016. Six months prior to the election, a position opened on the court. Previously, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland for said position. However, the then republican-majority senate refused to vote on approving Garland. They believed that because it was an election year, the voters should decide by picking the president. When Donald Trump won, he selected Neil Gorsuch, who was then approved by the still republican-majority senate.

However, now that there is a republican president in office, the republicans in the senate are singing a different tune. There is a lot less time between now and the 2020 election than there was for Obama’s nomination. The republicans have come out saying that the situation is different now because the senate and the presidential office are the same party—they believe that they have the right to choose. President Trump just recently nominated Amy Barret to take the open position. Her nomination would create a court heavily leaning to the right which is something the democrats in the senate hope to prevent. There have so far been two republican senators against voting in a Supreme Court justice this close to the election. Surprisingly, Mitt Romney was not part of the two against voting in a new justice even if he voted for the impeachment articles—the only member of the republican party to do so.

No one knows what will happen in the upcoming election or with the open Supreme Court seat. However, if the democrats are unable to block the nomination before the election, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be a right leaning court for decades to come. There is always a chance that one of the more conservative judges will acknowledge the imbalance in the court and step down after the election results are determined. The other option is possible if the democrats win the senate this election. It is a process called “court packing”; if congress decides that the court will not create fair rulings because of uneven ideologies amongst the justices, they can add judges to their liking. The problem present is that this sets a precedent—anytime a senate majority is not satisfied with the ideology of the courts they can change the number of justices. There is much to be determined in these next few weeks so it is important to either vote or to understand the importance of the upcoming election.