Mavericks react to Supreme Court nomination battle before election

Michael McShane ® Contributing Writer |

With the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the country was put in a state of déjà vu as it’s now the second time in a row a Supreme Court justice has passed away during an election year. While the event itself is very reminiscent of Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacancy on the court, the Republican-controlled Senate seems adamant on having a different result.

President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, upon learning of Justice Ginsburg’s passing, made it clear there was going to be a nomination and appointment to the high court before the 2020 election in November.

On Saturday Trump officially nominated Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ginsburg. Many in the political world see Barrett as a tough nominee for the Democrats to go up against, and her confirmation is all but inevitable.

This has led many to call out some Republican lawmakers as hypocrites; Republicans were quick to denounce former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, saying a Supreme Court vacancy during an election year should go unfilled until after the election.

This sentiment is shared with many MNSU students who believe the country should wait until after the election before placing someone on the Supreme Court.

“I definitely think that they should wait until after the election,” current MNSU student Louis Ikponmwosa said. “Especially with the Supreme Court right now, how it’ll swing so far to the right, and how it seems like the Republicans control the Senate and Congress too, then they should definitely wait until it’s balanced out.”

Grant Casperson, a graduate student at MNSU, said he believes it is too soon for the Senate to consider a replacement for Ginsburg, and that it is disrespectful to Ginsburg to use her seat as another political power-play.

“I think we need to give time for the country to mourn at the loss of Ruth Ginsburg and to also make sure we go about this the right way,” Casperson said.

While some students wish for the Senate to wait until after the election, many have accepted that a third Trump appointed Supreme Court justice is almost certain. 

This belief is shared with MNSU faculty as well. Professor Fred Slocum, who is the director of MNSU’s Political Science Program, sees this as a quick win for the Republican Party and its base right before the election.

“If Mcconnell wills it then I think they’ll just ram it through,” Prof. Slocum said. “Whoever Trump appoints will get rammed through.”

With Trump adding his third Supreme Court justice, he will very well cement a conservative supremacy within the high court that will last for decades. 

“It will delight conservatives and depress liberals to no end,” Slocum said. “There probably will be a Supreme Court with the votes to overturn Roe v. Wade, to give a blessing to voter suppression laws around the country and render decision after decision favorable to corporations and against organized labor.”

Some say such a move by both the president and Senate may be a double-edged sword. Democrat and liberal voters may feel emboldened by the move, and that could give Joe Biden the boost he needs to win in November. Some say conservatives were inspired to vote in 2016 due to former Justice Antonin Scalia’s open seat.

“Perhaps in 2020 if they push this thing through, which constitutionally speaking they are able to, perhaps we’ll see an uptick in Democratic turnout,” MNSU Assistant Professor Josh Berkenpas said. 

But while party control over the Senate and White House may very well change this upcoming election, with a lifelong tenure on the Supreme Court, another appointment by Trump could make the Supreme Court a conservative leaning court for decades with very little the liberal wing of the court can do.

“What adding another ‘conservative judge’ will do is increase that majority to 6-3,” Prof. Berkenpas said. “So, it may embolden any more conservative elements on the court to be less collegial, and less willing to negotiate with a much smaller minority.”

Header photo: Former University of Notre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett gives the commencement address to Trinity at Greenlawn graduates at the Trinity People of Praise Center June 11, 2011 in South Bend, Ind. (Barbara Allison/South Bend Tribune via AP)

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