by ANKITHA ANUMOLU
Political science professor Rosalyn Cooperman spoke on the recent history of the confirmation process for the US Supreme Court and what could happen next in the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing.
“In March 2016, after Justice Scalia’s death, President Obama named US DC Circuit Court of Appeals Justice Merrick Garland as the nominee to replace Justice Scalia on the bench,” said Cooperman. “At the time, Republicans held a majority in the Senate and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that the Senate would not hold confirmation hearings on the Garland nomination because it was an election year. The Senate was within its “advice and consent” rights to refuse to move forward.”
As President Donald Trump attempts to confirm a new justice, many Americans are worried about what the future holds for women’s right to choose.
“Currently, we are still performing abortion procedures and haven’t seen any changes. However, things may change in the future. Hopefully women will still have access to safe abortions and will not have to resort to unsafe ones,” said Jerie K. of the Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic.
If Trump nominates someone that is against abortion Roe v. Wade may be overturned and women may not be able to access safe, legal abortions.
Trump intends to confirm a new justice despite the Senate’s previous stance.
“Fast forward to late September 2020 when a vacancy appears on the Supreme Court with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” said Cooperman. “This time President Trump, along with Senate Republicans (who still hold a majority in the Senate), intend to move swiftly to fill the Supreme Court vacancy even as we are in the final weeks of a presidential election season and early voting has begun in some states, including the Commonwealth of Virginia. But now the Senate has decided to move forward with the nomination because a majority of its members (again, only Republicans) have agreed to do so. In both instances the Republican led majority was within its authority to first not proceed but then proceed, but there may be political consequences for these decisions in 2020.”
Cooperman also spoke about some of the possible ramifications of this political move.
“For one, public opinion polls have indicated that a majority of voters believes that the Supreme Court vacancy should be filled by the individual who wins the presidential election. The decision to move ahead with this nomination further politicizes the role of the Supreme Court, which was designed to be insulated, if not independent, from political pressures. This rushed confirmation will also tarnish the name of the nominee, Federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett, in the eyes of some who believe this process to be fraudulent. A rushed confirmation gives a bad name to the US Senate by indicating that its members will throw out the traditional timeline of considering nominations when they find it advantageous to do so. A rushed confirmation imperils the reputation of the Supreme Court, which is supposed to be above partisan politics,” said Cooperman. “None of these developments are good for the persons/entities involved—a Federal Judge, a sitting US President, Republican Senators who hold a party majority, and the Court itself—that will make it harder for the Court do to its job and maintain the confidence of the public as an independent institution that is often the final arbiter of how the Constitution is interpreted.”
Students are saddened by the loss of Ginsburg and urge people to vote in the upcoming election.
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an iconic justice, lawyer, advocate and activist and she will be deeply missed by countless people,” said Sam Hartz, senior American studies major and president of the Young Democrats club. “There is so much that we take for granted about the United States today that Ginsburg fought for and helped create during her lifetime. If Donald Trump is successful in getting his nominee appointed, Roe v. Wade could be on the chopping block – if that sounds frightening to you, then now is the time to put your all into keeping that seat empty until the election and getting a pro-Choice president into office.”