Following the death of Justice Ginsburg, there has been much national discussion about the Supreme Court. Several questions remain unanswered; what follows is an attempt to supply answers to those queries.
Are Republican senators guilty of hypocrisy? Indeed they are, but it does not stop there since Senate Democrats are equally hypocritical. In 2016, Democrats demanded that President Obama had the right to nominate a SCOTUS justice to replace Justice Scalia; now they have reversed their opinion. The nation should not be shocked by the bipartisan hypocrisy among politicians.
Did Amy Coney Barrett have the qualifications to be the next SCOTUS justice? Her intellect, experience as a law professor and lower court judge make her supremely qualified to be elevated to the court. Her past opinions in essays and on court cases are not reasons for voting against her confirmation.
Who is to blame for the contentiousness of SCOTUS nominations? At least the Barrett hearings were civil, yet citizens are concerned that the process is more like a competitive sport. Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., ended the 60-vote requirement to close debate, which had forced bipartisan compromise when considering SCOTUS nominations. If that rule were in place now, presidents would have to nominate a candidate who was agreeable to at least some senators from the opposition party. Blame can also be laid at the feet of President Barack Obama, who despite winning elections in 2008 and 2012, had very short coattails, thus limiting the number of Democrats in the Senate.
Should a nominee’s religion be considered in the confirmation process? Prior to the elevation of Justice Gorsuch, all nine of the justices were either Catholic or Jewish, despite the fact that more Americans identified as Protestant than any other faith. Justice Ginsburg, who was Jewish, claimed that, “The Talmud is my sacred, daily guide for living.” This was not challenged, so why should Judge Barrett’s using the Catholic Bible as a guide be any different?
Is packing the court justified? The number of SCOTUS justices is not specified in the Constitution and early presidents added and subtracted the number of seats on the high court. A Democratic president and Congress might try to add justices to overcome a 6-3 conservative majority. If they add four liberals, a future Republican administration might add a few more conservatives, and there would not be enough chairs for all the justices to be seated for court hearings. This is a temporary solution that would create more problems.
Simply returning to the 60-vote minimum would allow the court to trend towards the middle. Democrats should remember what President Obama said, “Elections have consequences.” Stop complaining and get out the vote!