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8 days until the election: Supreme Court nomination highlights Monday’s news

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett poses for a photo with junior United States Senator James Lankford (R-OK) on Capitol Hill on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Leigh Vogel-Pool).
Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett poses for a photo with junior United States Senator James Lankford (R-OK) on Capitol Hill on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Leigh Vogel-Pool). (Getty Images)

Monday is expected to be the day for Amy Coney Barrett, much to the delight of Republicans and to the frustration of Democrats.

Barrett, President Donald Trump’s choice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court after Ginsburg’s death Sept. 18, is expected to be confirmed officially as the newest judge on the nation’s nine-member highest court.

The vote would give Republicans a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court, with three new judges being appointed by Trump since he took office in 2017.


Who is Barrett?

Barrett, 48, has spent the past three years as a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which has jurisdiction over parts of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Prior to that, she was a professor at Notre Dame Law School.

Barrett has seven children, including two of whom have been adopted from Haiti.

Why has her nomination sparked controversy?

When Ginsburg died, Democrats said her replacement should be decided by whomever wins the presidency. Democrats also argued that a Republican-controlled Senate in 2016 blocked then-President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat, citing it was an election year. Republicans argued that the court shouldn’t go that long with the seat being vacant and that unlike with Obama’s nomination, the same party controlled the White House and the Senate. Trump also said at the first presidential debate with Joe Biden that Republicans won the right by being victorious in the 2016 election, and their terms don’t expire until January -- and thus, it’s their obligation to fill the vacancy.

Why are Democrats essentially powerless to stop her confirmation?

Supreme Court nominees are made by the sitting president and confirmed by the Senate as outlined by the Constitution, and a nominee is confirmed by a simple majority vote once hearings in front of Senate members to gauge the qualifications of a nominee are over.

With Republicans controlling a majority of the Senate seats, a straight-party vote backing Trump’s nomination is all Barrett needs to be confirmed.

Currently, Republicans hold 53 seats, Democrats hold 45 seats and Independents have two seats in the Senate.

Two Republican Senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have stated that the Senate should wait until after the election to confirm a nomination.

But even if those two vote no, Republicans still have a majority of the votes they need, plus Vice President Mike Pence to cast any tie-breaking vote.

Democratic leaders and lobbyists are fully aware of their situation, which is why their only hope is to try and sway enough Republican Senators to change their vote -- attempts that have been well underway and will intensify as the vote gets closer, according to the Washington Post.

What will the aftermath entail?

If Trump loses the presidential election to Joe Biden and Democrats win enough races to regain control of the Senate, there’s already been talk that they will “pack the courts,” meaning they will add justices to the Supreme Court and thus create a Democratic majority.

The Constitution doesn’t specify there has to be a limited number of judges on the Supreme Court.

If Republicans can hang on to either the White House or Senate, their majority on the Supreme Court might continue for generations with three fresh new conservative judges appointed in the past three years.


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