The conservative Amy Coney Barrett moves into the US Supreme Court as a judge. The Republicans thus have a dominant majority in the Supreme Court. This could play a role in the upcoming presidential election.
One week before the US presidential election, the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett cements the conservative majority in the country’s Supreme Court. The Supreme Court could have the final say in possible legal proceedings over the counting of votes in the November 3 election. At the same time, the court repeatedly sets an important course for US society with its decisions on controversial issues such as the right to abortion or same-sex marriages.
The judges are proposed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. They are appointed for life. The candidate of US President Donald Trump passed the Senate with the votes of 52 Republican members, the 47 Democrats and one Republican voted against her on Monday evening (local time).
With Barrett, the Conservatives get the dominant majority of six of the nine seats in the Supreme Court. The 48-year-old replaces the liberal justice icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September. It is already the third seat in the Supreme Court that Trump fills.
The Democrats around the presidential candidate Joe Biden, on the other hand, demanded that only the winner of the election should settle the succession to Ginsburg. In the end, only Senator Susan Collins agreed with this view on the part of the Republicans.
Oath to the Constitution
Just one hour after the Senate vote, Barrett took the oath to the Constitution on the south lawn of the White House. Afterwards, she had herself photographed with Trump on the balcony of the presidential residence. On Tuesday, she will become a full member of the Supreme Court when she is sworn in by presiding Judge John Roberts.
It was already the second event for Barrett at the White House. After the event for her nomination exactly one month before, several participants tested positive for the coronavirus. These included the president and wife Melania. This time the chairs were placed at a greater distance, but again some participants were not wearing masks.
The 48-year-old will be the 103rd judge of the Supreme Court. She was born on January 28, 1972 in News Orleans (Louisiana). She completed her law studies at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana in 1997 as the best in her class. From 2002 to 2017, she taught as a professor at the university, specializing in civil procedure law and constitutional law. She was then appointed judge at a federal appeals court. Barrett is married and has seven children.
Barrett is considered a follower of legal theory
Barrett has been a convinced Catholic for decades. She is considered a clear opponent of abortion, which makes her a favorite in arch-conservative circles. At her 2017 hearing for her judgeship, she said: “I see no contradiction between a sincere faith and my duties as a judge. A judge should never make a decision based on the desire to achieve a particular result.
Prior to her appeal to the Supreme Court, she told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she was independent and would decide based on the law rather than on her beliefs. Barrett is considered a supporter of the legal theory that the US Constitution should be interpreted according to its original meaning and not reinterpreted. Barrett did not answer the question of whether a U.S. president is obligated to a peaceful transfer of power.
Trump was determined to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court before the presidential election on November 3. In doing so, he also expressly referred to possible legal proceedings surrounding the election. In recent days, the court has already made several decisions on disputes about the election process in several states. One of them came just as the senators were casting their votes. The Supreme Court rejected an extension of the deadline for the receipt of postal ballots in Wisconsin up to six days after November 3.
With Barrett on the Supreme Court, healthcare reform could fall
The Democrats recently warned that with Barrett on the Supreme Court, ex-President Barack Obama’s health care reform could fall, causing millions of Americans to lose their health insurance. The Trump administration is currently making another attempt to overturn the reform in the Supreme Court, with the first trial scheduled for the week after the presidential election. Trump said just last week that he hopes the court will abolish “Obamacare”. He himself has been announcing his own health care plan for years, but has still not presented it.
The Liberals also fear that with Barrett and the conservative dominance in the Supreme Court, the right to abortion and same-sex marriage could be at risk. In her hearing, which lasted several days, Barrett consistently kept a low profile on the controversial issues. Among other things, she did not want to say whether, in her view, the right to abortion or same-sex marriages was covered by the constitution.
Biden: “Supreme Court judges remain for generations
The Democrats were additionally outraged because the Republicans in the Senate had even refused to hear Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in early 2016. They pointed out that in an election year one must first experience the will of the people. Now, in Barrett’s case, they again distanced themselves from this position, which they had declared a new rule four years ago.
In view of the dominance of the Conservatives in the Supreme Court, the Democrats have recently demanded that, if Biden wins and the party receives a majority in the Senate, the court be enlarged.
Biden initially avoided answering the question of whether he would support such a move for a long time. In the meantime, in an interview, he positioned himself against an enlargement, at least as an individual measure. “The last thing we need is to turn the Supreme Court into a political soccer, so that whoever has the most votes gets what he wants,” Biden said in a TV interview. “Presidents come and go, Supreme Court judges stay for generations,” he stressed.
At the same time, however, if he wins, Biden wants to tackle comprehensive judicial reform. He then wants to have a commission of Democrats, Republicans and experts in constitutional law deliberate on recommendations for six months, he said.