Opinions & Editorials

What’s at stake for the Supreme Court

Written By: Andrew Zerman, Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Flickr

An appointment to the Supreme Court lasts a lifetime. The average human life expectancy is now 80-years-old, which means that a single appointment can change the political ideologies of a court for a whole generation.

The Supreme Court is currently in danger of significant partisanship to a level that has not been seen in roughly 90 years. The results of this upcoming election will greatly determine the future of our Supreme Court. 

I am assuming the inevitable in saying this. Amy Coney Barrett will be elected to the Supreme Court before the general election, putting the Court at 6-3 in favor of conservatives.

Four GOP senate members will have to vote against her confirmation in order for her to not be confirmed. As of now, only Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have committed to that, and I have reason to think that list may not exceed those two. There is also no guarantee that all of the Democrats will vote against her, as Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) broke party lines for the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Manchin may do so again to keep his seat in a red state. 

The Senate Democrats will most likely do stalling tactics and attempted character smears. I doubt that many Democrats will even want to hear what Amy Coney Barrett will have to say, meaning we have some very ugly weeks ahead of us in politics.

Most of the disdain toward her will be because of her political views. I hope that the Democrats do not use religion as a means for her to not be on the Supreme Court and they have something better than that.

The Supreme Court has been skewed 5-4 in favor of conservatives for the last few decades, but conservative Chief Justice John Roberts has often sided with  liberals on topics such as LGBT+ rights, women’s rights and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protections, otherwise known as DACA protections. Now that it will be a 6-3 majority, his vote will no longer act as the deciding vote in cases that are along partisan lines. 

Fortunately, Justice Neil Gorsuch sided with Justice Roberts and the “liberal” Justices on many minority-rights cases. However, this still leaves very little margin for error. 

there is an impending danger of a 7-2 supermajority, and this upcoming election may decide that. Liberal Justice Stephen Breyer is 82 and the oldest judge on the court. He remains in good health and is unlikely to retire until someone other than Trump takes office. However, if Trump wins this upcoming election, he would be 86 by the end of his second term. I hope that he is still in good health by then, but there are no guarantees with the age that he is.

Democrats have talked about filling the court and adding two new seats if they win back the presidency and the Senate. My hope is that they do not do this. That could lead to a slippery slope where the party in control would just add more seats if they are underrepresented in the Supreme Court.

Out of all fairness, the Republicans did not play by the rules in 2016, but that does not mean that the Democrats should sink to the same low standard by adding seats. 

I hope to see a 5-4 split in the future, because I do not think it is ever a good thing for one party to have significant control of the Court. This upcoming election is of course about the leader we are to elect, but it is also about our judicial system.

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