A few weeks ago, news broke about the passing of Justice Ruth B. Ginsburg, and in doing so, the issue of when to appoint a new associate justice has made its way to being an election issue. In all honesty, we need a balanced Supreme Court now more than ever which begs the question, if Amy Coney Barrett is the right one to be appointed?
A quick review of the court and its constitutional powers is that it was created from the United State Constitution in Article 2 Section 1, the President appoints the justices, and they are the highest court in America with the power of judicial review.
I am not advocating for any political party to win this election, I just believe in a balanced court. When Ginsburg sat on the court, it was not a perfectly-balanced court, but it was as balanced as it could be.
On the liberal side sat Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagan. On the conservative side sat Thomas, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, and Alito. Chief Justice Roberts has been known to side with the conservative bench but however, has tried to remain as bipartisan as possible.
If Barrett is to be confirmed by the Senate, the court will swing conservative, which isn’t a bad thing. However, America needs a government that works together, not one where either party dominates any of the branches in our government.
We all have varying opinions on how Congress acts and who is controlling the country, but most people agree that the Supreme Court was bipartisan before Ginsburg’s death according to a study done by the Pew Research Center.
Even by precedent, the court has tried to remain as bipartisan as possible which can be seen at events as the State of the Union address. The justices don’t clap with congressmen and women when a president of either party speaks. But when they do stand up and clap, it is calculated and in a way that shows bipartisanship or what on a topic most Americans can agree on.
This speaks volumes to the character of the justices as to trying to portray the court as being bipartisan. Even when appointed, justices do come in with hardest ideology but work with each other in determining what the constitution says and putting America first.
Some justices have even swung to the opposite side in monumental decisions because they put the country first instead of their ideology. My fear is that if the Senate decides to either confirm now or wait until after the election, the court might swing too conservative and/or liberal, which will disrupt the sanctity of the court.
We must remember, justices serve for life; meaning they either have to retire or die or be impeached to leave office, they have the highest job security in America. And the last time a justice was impeached was in 1805, being Associate Justice Samuel Chase, but was acquitted by the Senate.
Therefore, if Barrett was to be confirmed, she would serve for decades and dramatically shift the ideology of the Supreme Court. This is not what America needs right now, we need unity and for our government officials to put their own agendas aside and work for the greater good for all Americans.
However, you may still ask yourself, “Why is it still important to have a balanced court?” Laid out in Article 2 Section 2 of the Constitution are the powers the court is granted, judicial review being the biggest one. The court's sole purpose is to make sure laws are being passed and the actions of the government are within their powers laid out in the Constitution.
There are many ways justices can interpret the Constitution, but the two of the most popular ways are either by understanding what the writers of the Constitution were trying to say and applying it to the law, also known as originalism or textualism. The other way is reading the Constitution exactly how it is written with no grey area in between, known as strict constructionism or non-textualism.
Right now, the court uses originalism to determine most of its cases and try to understand what the writers were trying to mean when writing the document. Barrett has come out saying that she will read the Constitution as it is written. This is unnerving due to the fact that if the constitution says the government has no constitutional power on creating certain laws, then she will strike it down if it comes to court.
That means the court’s rulings on previous cases can come back and be reversed. Some helpful rulings of laws that make American lives easier, could end up on the chopping block and be considered unconstitutional by the court.
America is severely divided, and instead of coming together and working for Americans who put them into office, government officials from both parties are pushing for their own agendas. We need unity.
Amy Coney Barrett, is a strong judge within her own right, and it would be nice to see her appointed as the fifth female Supreme Court Justice, but is she truly the type of justice we need right now? As Abraham Lincoln once said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand”.