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  • Ian Le Warn, UC-Tech

The Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett: Why it's Important, and why it was Controversial?

The Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett: Why it's Important, and why it was Controversial?

On September 18, 2020, the United States Supreme Court lost one of its longest serving members, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to metastatic pancreatic cancer at the age of 87. Ginsburg, who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court since 1993, was a leader in the fight for minority rights, notably for those of women. After the death of a Supreme Court justice, it is the right of the president to nominate a federal judge to replace the deceased. On September 26, 2020, president Donald Trump controversially nominated conservative figurehead Amy Coney Barret for the seat.

This nomination proved to be controversial as a result of the precedent set by Senate Republicans in 2016 when they refused to appoint President Obama’s nomination, Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court due to the close proximity of a Presidential election. After the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, then president Barack Obama nominated United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Merrick Garland to replace the late justice. Senate Republicans blocked this nomination, citing that it was too close to the 2016 presidential election, and that the people of America should be allowed to vote before any nominee was installed into the court.

With the death of Justice Ginsberg a mere thirty-five days before the presidential election, many were quick to call out Senate Republicans, and notably Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, for supposed hypocrisy. Regardless of controversy, on October 26th, 2020, Judge Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court with a Senate vote of fifty-two to forty-eight.

This appointment came at a critical point for President Donald Trump. The 2020 presidential election ended up being one of the closest in American history, and Republicans have appealed to the Supreme Court to reverse election results, claiming President-elect Biden’s victory was an outcome of widespread mail-in ballot fraud. Despite whatever political leanings the Supreme Court justices may have, in December, the Court rejected a bid brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to overturn election results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin, and more recently rejected a bid to expedite further appeals before President-elect Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2020.

Baker, Peter; Haberman, Maggie (September 25, 2020). "Trump selects Amy Coney Barrett to fill Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 25, 2020. Retrieved October 10, 2020.

Fandos, Nicholas (October 26, 2020). "The Senate confirms Barrett on a nearly party-line vote, delivering a win to Trump that tips the Supreme Court to the right". The New York Times. Retrieved October 27, 2020.

Mascaro, Lisa (October 26, 2020). "Barrett confirmed as Supreme Court justice in partisan vote". Associated Press. Retrieved October 26, 2020.

McCarthy, Tom; Beckett, Lois (September 19, 2020). "Ruth Bader Ginsburg, supreme court justice, dies aged 87". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on September 22, 2020. Retrieved October 30, 2020.

Stohr, Greg. (January 11, 2021). “Supreme Court Rejects Trump Bid to Expedite Election Appeals.” Bloomberg News. Archived from the Original on January 11, 2020. Retrieved January 15, 2021.

"What Happened With Merrick Garland In 2016 And Why It Matters Now". June 29, 2018. Retrieved October 15, 2020.

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