Tomorrow begins one of the fastest Supreme Court fights in modern history. On Saturday, just a week after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, President Trump is expected to announce his candidate for her replacement: Judge Amy Coney Barrettwho is currently working at the 7th Court of Appeal.
The nomination battle for Barrett will be bitter.
When it’s confirmed – and now Republicans have the votes – Your presence in the field will give the Conservative wing a solid 6-3 majority, allowing the other Conservative Justices to bypass Chief Justice John Roberts. In other words, Roberts will no longer be the median of the court. (He has cast several key votes among Liberal judges over the years, often out of obvious concern about the court’s institutional legitimacy.)
Barrett’s appointment marks a huge shift in the focus of the Supreme Court. According to an estimate of their ideological inclinationsBarrett will be the third most conservative judiciary in the court, to the left of Judges Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas and to the right of Trump’s two previous candidates, Judges Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. This is a best-case scenario for liberals too. Several experts told me that based on Barrett’s previous rulings as a federal judge and writings as a law professor, she could have the rights of Alito – or even Thomas.
But even in that third place, Barrett, who replaces Ginsburg, is one of the biggest swings in the modern square since 1953:
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Of course, it is difficult to predict how a candidate will vote when she is on trial, and in the past several of the court’s most liberal judges have been appointed by Republican presidents. But in the last few decades The conservative right-wing movement worked to cultivate a stable of potential judges who are consistent ideological conservatives. Barrett is the figurehead of this endeavor in many ways.
Trump even said that he “saved” Barrett for Ginsburg’s seat. That’s because it is Barrett a favorite of conservative Christians in particular and is widespread as justice willing to compromise or even vote in favor of states’ ability to restrict access to abortion, Roe v. Overthrow Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion. She also criticized Roberts’ 2012 vote to comply with the Affordable Care Act in a recent law review article that will matter if confirmed by early November, as the Supreme Court hears a challenge to the law a week after the election.
“Everything about her screams” reliably conservative, “” said John Kastellec, a policy professor at Princeton University studying nominations for the Supreme Court. “If you wanted a person who seems like a very safe bet to knock Roe v. Wade down, it would be her.”
It’s hard to imagine, therefore, that Barrett won’t turn out to be the staunch Conservative their boosters are hoping for – and that’s a point that Democrats are likely to drive home during their confirmation hearings. This line of attack is not without its risks for the Democrats, however. When Barrett was nominated for the 7th Circuit in 2017, it was her criticized for their conservative ideologybut that hit something back on Democrats, in part because Sen. Dianne Feinstein suggested during the hearings that Barrett, a Catholic, would use “dogma” to guide her court decisions – a comment made by many religious conservatives saw as an anti-Catholic dog whistle.
But this time around, according to Kastellec and other experts, Democrats would likely avoid attacking Barrett on personal traits and instead emphasize what a tough conservative blow in the field could mean on abortion, the Affordable Care Act, Gun Restrictions, and Gun Controls Act, a host of others liberal precedents. Barrett is young too. At 48, she could be on the pitch for decades come.
That is, the confirmation hearings, which are expected to begin around October 12thwill likely be extremely rancid. However, it is doubtful that that would prevent the GOP from voting on Barrett’s nomination after just a few weeks of deliberation. Such an ambitious timeline seems very possible, since Senate Republicans currently have a solid majority ready to vote on Trump’s Supreme Court election even before Barrett is named. And several republicans including Trump, have announced that they want to ensure that the vote takes place before election day so that the new judiciary is deployed in a timely manner to resolve any election-related disputes – potentially giving Trump’s new candidate enormous power over the election result.
However, the rush to affirm a new justice is a gamble when it comes to elections. It could galvanize some religious conservatives and other republican stalwarts who are very interested in judicial nominations, but may also put other voters off, as recent polls have shown many Americans are not keen on the idea of ratifying a new Supreme Court Justice so close to election. But having a solid 6-3 Conservative majority on the court is a win big enough for Republicans to risk a lot to make it happen.