Congress Responds to Amy Coney Barrett’s Confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court

Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images.

By Julietta Bisharyan and Linh Nguyen

WASHINGTON D.C. – Six weeks after the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Ginsburg’s seat, despite the fact that the presidential election is approaching in a few days.

In a 52-48 Senate vote, Barrett was confirmed as the successor to Ginsburg Supreme Court seat. All Democrats opposed and all but one Republican were in favor. Barrett was sworn in and took oath on the night of Oct. 26, establishing a 6-3 conservative majority on the bench. She is described as a protégé of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

President Donald Trump’s nomination of Barrett was met with widespread ambivalence among the American public and American politicians.

“Senate Republicans jammed through this nomination in the middle of an election where over 60 million Americans have already voted,” Senator Kamala Harris said in a statement. “Senate Republicans have ignored the will of the people, deciding instead to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – who devoted her life to fighting for equal justice – with someone who was selected to undo her legacy.”

Following the confirmation, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called her appointment “the most illegitimate process I have ever witnessed in the Senate.”

“Today will go down as one of the darkest days in the Senate’s 231-year history,” Schumer said. “The Senate GOP is thwarting the will of the people and confirming a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court in the middle of a presidential election. Democrats will never stop fighting for Americans.”

Over the course of her time on the bench, Justice Ginsburg fought for progressive social justice, including LGBTQ+ rights and reproductive rights. Ginsburg’s dying wish was for the next president to name her replacement.

Naming Barrett to replace Ginsburg threatens these rights – Barrett has stated on numerous occasions that she is willing to revisit Roe v. Wade, which threatens women’s reproductive rights. She also has ruled against cases involving employment discrimination, immigration rights, the environment, qualified immunity, criminal procedure, civil procedure and COVID-19 measures.

“Barrett’s long history of anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-immigrant statements and decisions make her fundamentally unfit to serve on the Supreme Court,” said Representative Ayanna Pressley. “Let me be clear: abortion care is health care, and health care is a human right. Judge Barrett is a dangerous, far-right ideologue who does not belong on our nation’s highest court.”

Speaker of The House Nancy Pelosi similarly said, “The President’s Supreme Court manipulation threatens the very values and rights that define and distinguish our nation: a woman’s constitutional right to make her own medical decisions, the rights of LGBTQ Americans, the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain for fair wages, the future of our planet and environmental protections, voting rights and the right of every American to have a voice in our democracy.”

During Barrett’s confirmation hearing, she failed to name all five rights protected by the First Amendment, refused to answer whether she believes that Medicare is constitutional and refused to acknowledge the scientific fact that climate change is happening, calling it “controversial.”

Barrett’s limited experience has also been called into question, as she has been cited as the most inexperienced person nominated to the Supreme Court since 1991.

Trump had previously appointed Barrett to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2017. Before her nomination to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, she had never served as a judge or worked in the government as a prosecutor, defense lawyer, solicitor general, attorney general or as counsel to any legislative body.

“As a nominee for our nation’s highest court, Judge Barrett is an example to girls and young women in Iowa, and across America, that they truly can do it all,” Senator Joni Ernst said after Barrett was nominated.

Minutes after Barrett’s confirmation, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez urged Joe Biden, should he win this election, to “expand the court.”

“Republicans do this because they don’t believe Dems have the stones to play hardball like they do. And for a long time they’ve been correct,” she added. “But do not let them bully the public into thinking their bulldozing is normal, but a response isn’t. There is a legal process for expansion.”

This is the third seat on the Supreme Court that Trump has filled.


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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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24 Comments

    1. Don Shor

      https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/most-americans-want-to-wait-until-after-the-election-to-fill-the-supreme-court-vacancy/

      We’ve identified 12 polls so far that have asked some version of the question, “Should Ginsburg’s seat be filled this year by Trump, or next year by the winner of the 2020 presidential election?” And on average, 52 percent of respondents have said to wait, while only 39 percent have said Trump should fill the seat now.

    2. Tia Will

      Keith

      “Maybe the will of Democrats, but not the will of the people.”

      We won’t know that until after the results of the election. That was the whole point of waiting until after the election in an election year ( Merrick Garland). Remember that? So it is possible you are correct. Or it is possible that the GOP managed to circumvent the results of the election to seat another right-wing activist justice.

        1. Bill Marshall

          What David said…

          The Supreme Court was meant to be, intended to be, supposed to be, impartial as to political shifts… weighing the law/Constitution…  so now, we should see it as a political 3rd branch of government?  Be careful what you ask for Keith… paybacks are double…

          BTW, I am thinking Barrett might come back to hurt conservatives in her opinions… like Earl Warren did when conservatives elevated him to Chief Justice… the ‘Warren Court’ was hardly conservative…

          Barrett is Catholic = catholic, the meaning of which is ‘universal’…

          Trump has tried to play a woman, Catholic card, and rush the appointment to get more votes (in areas he’s been weakest in)… that’s not Barrett’s fault… she may well surprise Conservatives and Progressive/Liberals, alike… I abhor the process and timing… yet, would not surprise me if she ends up being in the moderate/center… like Kennedy, and now, Roberts… Scalia was a person of values… as was Ginsburg… they deeply respected/liked each other… Barrett sees Scalia as a mentor…

          Time will tell… but I’m ready to to give the appointee the benefit of time… not so for those who pushed for the contrived timing and ‘affirmative action’ (to appeal to electoral segments) scene… crass, manipulative… but Barrett was not complicit in that… unfortunately, the ‘pawn’ chosen for the “game” (elections)… again, will give her the benefit of time…

           

           

        2. Keith Olsen

          The Supreme Court was meant to be, intended to be, supposed to be, impartial as to political shifts… weighing the law/Constitution…  so now, we should see it as a political3rd branch of government?  Be careful what you ask for Keith… paybacks are double…

          Yeah right BM, because the Democrats always seat middle of the road fair judges who only rule by the laws of the constitution and never make judgements according to their political beliefs, said no one ever.  Keep drinking the Koolaid.

          1. David Greenwald

            Actually I find it ironic. I don’t have a problem with judicial activism per se. I think the constitution was supposed to be a living document. But for 50 years, the rallying cry for the right was mau mauing against judicial activism, now it seems they have embraced it.

        3. Keith Olsen

          I’ve noticed that the four leftist judges almost always voted lockstep together with each other.  Today you’ll see some of the conservative leaning judges voting with the liberal ones, like Roberts and Gorsuch have recently done.  I mean without Roberts actually having to change the wording of Obamacare so he could vote for it there would be no ACA.  How often do you see that coming from the liberal judges?

        4. David Greenwald

          That’s actually not true at all. There have been a lot of non-5-4 votes this term on major cases with some weird combinations.

          But the other thing is that when you are in the minority, you are much more constrained in where you can go.  You either dissent or you go narrow and attempt to pick off a fifth vote.

        5. Keith Olsen

          But the other thing is that when you are in the minority, you are much more constrained in where you can go.  You either dissent or you go narrow and attempt to pick off a fifth vote.

          Exactly, the leftist judges voted lockstep and hoped to pick off a conservative judge.  And it quite often happened.  You didn’t see them voting with the conservative majority unless the case was a slam dunk where most of the judges agreed.  Thanks for proving my point.

        6. Keith Olsen

          There were 67 decisions after argumentin the term that ended in June. In those cases, the four justices appointed by Democratic presidents voted the same way 51 times, while the five Republican appointees held tight 37 times. And of the 20 cases where the court split 5-4, only seven had the “expected” ideological divide of conservatives over liberals. By the end of the term, each conservative justice had joined the liberals as the deciding vote at least once.

          https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/09/10/liberal-supreme-court-justices-vote-in-lockstep-not-the-conservative-justices-column/2028450001/

           

          1. David Greenwald

            51 out of 67 is three quarters of the time. That’s about what I would have expected. Maybe a bit lower. I might have thought 80 percent.

        7. Tia Will

          Keith

          Merrick Garland, who by current GOP reasoning, should have been granted his interviews and vote, was a centrist, not a left-wing activist. But I am at least glad to hear your honesty that ACB is a right-wing activist justice.

        8. Keith Olsen

          51 out of 67 is three quarters of the time. That’s about what I would have expected. Maybe a bit lower. I might have thought 80 percent.

          Did you even read the article?  The point was that conservative judges were more likely to break rank than the liberal judges, which proves my point.

        9. Keith Olsen

          But I am at least glad to hear your honesty that ACB is a right-wing activist justice.

          Where did I say that Tia?  Actually it was YOU who wrote that.  Quit putting words in my mouth, I know how much you hate it when others do that to you.

        10. Tia Will

          Keith

          I would really prefer a conversation in which you do not assume you know what “we all know”. My knowledge and belief set is very different from yours. However, just so you know from me, how I see this issue, I will tell you so we can be clear.

          I do not want judicial activists at all. I want judges who will truly do what they all claim to do which is to interpret the law as written and not legislate from the bench. This was why I was delighted with the nomination of Merrick Garland, a known centrist.

          On a more personal note, how I judge the actions of politicians and judges is by asking myself, if this situation were reversed, in this case, if ACB were a known leftist judge, would I want her to be nominated and approved while an election is in progress, my answer would be “no”. I do not think that is a just process even though she as an activist leftist justice would likely make more decisions I favor. This process is wrong regardless of the ideology of the individual involved. The question I would have you answer is, would you be defending this rushed process if ACB were a liberal?

  1. Eric Gelber

    People should define what they mean by such terms as “judicial activist.” For most, it simply means a judge or justice who issues opinions they disagree with. Same with an assertion such as “Amy Coney Barrett will make a great Supreme Court Justice.” How do you know? What criteria are you using?

  2. Tia Will

    Eric

    I agree with you. For me, judicial activism occurs when a justice interprets all or most controversial issues from the position of their own personal viewpoint/or moral or religious values, rather than a strict interpretation of the words of the constitution as they are written. This is especially true when they are dishonest about their approach. For example, I found a basic dishonest in John Roberts’ words that implied a judge does nothing but call balls and strikes. If that were true, there would be near unanimity on the court instead of the frequent 5/4 split by ideology that we do see.

    One other point. I believe justices claim to be originalists is on its face an inaccurate claim. They are “originalists” only when it is convenient for them. Several examples of ignoring the meaning of the founder’s words demonstrate this. Justice Thomas could not have been seated at the time of the writing of the Constitution, as he would not have been considered the equal of a white man. The same would have applied to every female member of the court.  If we were adhering to the meaning of the words as understood by the founders, the right to own a firearm would have been limited to muskets. Clearly, even the “originalist” judges are willing to accept the modern meaning of a word when it ideologically conforms to their beliefs, but not when it does not support their position.

    1. Keith Olsen

      Tia, I suggest that you read this article:

      There were 67 decisions after argumentin the term that ended in June. In those cases, the four justices appointed by Democratic presidents voted the same way 51 times, while the five Republican appointees held tight 37 times. And of the 20 cases where the court split 5-4, only seven had the “expected” ideological divide of conservatives over liberals. By the end of the term, each conservative justice had joined the liberals as the deciding vote at least once.

      https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/09/10/liberal-supreme-court-justices-vote-in-lockstep-not-the-conservative-justices-column/2028450001/

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