MIke Gomes

Supreme Court Supremacy?

What will the Supreme Court look like with another “Republican Justice”?

On September 18th, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away at the age of 87. Ginsburg served as an associate justice for 27 years; she was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993. At the time she was brought into the Supreme Court, she was viewed as a moderate and later became more left-sided over time. President Clinton’s biggest reason for bringing Ginsburg in was to increase the diversity in the Supreme Court. Prior to her nomination, only one of the eight justices on the Supreme Court was a female. Clinton believed the addition of another female justice would be a good change and a change that the country needed.

Prior to Ginsburg’s passing, the Supreme Court sat six men and three women (including Ginsburg). Of the nine justices on the Court, five of the justices identified as Republicans, including Chief Justice John Roberts, while the other four identified as Democrats. Interestingly, all three female justices in the court happened to fall on the left side. Now that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed, the Supreme Court currently leans much more to the conservative side. President Trump recently nominated conservative federal appeals court judge, Amy Coney Barrett, to replace the late Ginsburg. Trump called it a “very proud moment”, stating Barrett was a woman of “towering intellect”. With Barrett’s nomination, the Supreme Court will sit six Republican justices, and only three Democrats, if she’s confirmed by the Senate.

When it comes to making a ruling in the Supreme Court, every case is determined by the majority vote. If all nine justices happened to be members of the Republican party, every ruling made by the Supreme Court would almost always favor the right and vice versa. In order to remain fair when making decisions, the Supreme Court should seat five justices from one party and four from another.

In the 2020 Supreme Court case Espinoza v. Montana, the Montana Legislature established a program that grants tax credits to those who donate to organizations that award scholarships for private school tuition. However, the Montana Department of Revenue established a rule which prohibited families from using the scholarships at religious schools. Three mothers who were prohibited from using their scholarship funds at a Christian School because of the rule sued the Department in the state court. When this case was brought up to the Supreme Court, the Court ruled in favor of the mothers (5-4), stating it was unconstitutional discrimination based on religion, and that the policy violates the First Amendment and its protection to practice religion freely. 

All four associate Republican justices voted in favor of the mothers, stating it was religious discrimination. Not surprisingly, all four Democratic justices, Justice Breyer along with the three females in the court, voted in dissent. Chief Justice Roberts made the final decision, ultimately siding with Justices Thomas, Alito, Kavanaugh, and Gorsuch, deeming it unconstitutional. 

Since there were four associate judges in each political party in this case, the ultimate decision was left to the Chief Justice, and it can’t get any fairer than that. If the Court was lopsided, favoring the left much more than the right or vice versa, rulings on important cases would be extremely biased.

When it comes to making rulings on decisions such as religious practices, abortions, immigration, and our military, most Democrats and Republicans have completely different views. If the Supreme Court were to be heavily one-sided (7-2, 8-1, etc.), almost every case outcome would be determined before it was even brought up to the Supreme Court. That’s why it’s best to keep the Supreme Court on an even keel and maintain a high level of fairness.

Barrett’s nomination raises President Trump’s Supreme Court nominees from two to three. Trump had already nominated Supreme Court justices in Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh early in his term, which were two quality additions to the Supreme Court. Barrett was highly considered by Trump in 2018 to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, however; Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh over Amy Barrett. Even though she was passed over, Barrett was expected by many to be Trump’s next nomination if the opportunity ever presented itself again.

The news of Amy Barrett’s nomination into the Supreme Court will definitely create some sparks between the two parties over the next few weeks. Republicans hope to have her confirmed before the election date in November, while Democrats are hoping for the exact opposite. 

Many Democrats are disgusted with Barrett’s nomination. Specifically, Chuck Schumer of the U.S. Senate, claiming Trump’s decision to nominate Barrett was just a rush “to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat less than 40 days before a presidential election”. He later stated that “Ginsburg’s dying wish was that she not be replaced until a new president is installed”. The left believes that Republicans want to ignore Ginsburg’s last wishes, just so they can have a representative of their own in the Supreme Court. 

Democrats claimed there shouldn’t be a confirmation in an election year. This isn’t much of a surprise, in fact; Republicans argued the same thing in previous years when there was a Democratic president in office. Neither party wants a justice to be nominated by a president from the opposing party, because chances are the President will nominate someone with similar political views as his. In this particular case, Barrett’s confirmation would certainly tip the balance of the court to even more conservative, and settled issues may once again become issues that are front and center for the court to resolve. Let’s just hope for all of us that there is some real fairness that goes into this most important decision for our country.

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