On Sept. 18, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. Ginsburg was a champion of women’s rights and a lawyer for many cases regarding sex/gender-based discrimination. She was one of four women to serve on the Supreme Court in U.S. history. Ginsburg upheld the rights of many people, including the right to abortion and marriage equality
Days after Ginsburg’s death, President Donald Trump declared that he would fill her seat before the election on Nov. 3. Trump recently confirmed his pick as Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative judge who has extreme views on abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, among other issues. This has brought a lot of backlash and praise from Democrats and Republicans respectively in Congress. The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that they will begin the process of appointing Barrett to the Court.
Although a vacancy in the Supreme Court is supposed to be filled, Mitch McConnell is going against a precedent he made during Barack Obama’s last year as president. Former Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016, an election year.
When Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the seat, McConnell refused to hold a hearing for the replacement, and instead waited until a new president was elected, Trump, and chose his nominee, Neil Gorsuch. McConnell defended his decision by saying that “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice.”
McConnell set the precedent that Supreme Court vacancies should not be filled in an election year, and that the decision should be made, in part, by voters. McConnell is now completely ignoring what he said four years ago and is now trying to cram in a judge before an election. If Barrett is sworn in before November, the Supreme Court will be majority conservative, and the rulings on abortion and marriage equality could be overturned.
Although many say that the Senate is doing its job, it is being hypocritical about it. To fill a seat on the Supreme Court, the president submits a nominee, who will then get a hearing and vote in the Senate and is confirmed by a simple majority. To say that you won’t vote for a Supreme Court nominee in an election year and then begin the process of appointing one, in an election year, is blatantly hypocritical.
It is also worth noting that, after Scalia died, there was a Democratic president and a Republican Senate who wouldn’t vote to replace Scalia. But now that the Senate and presidency are Republican, the Senate is more than willing to vote on a replacement.
The Supreme Court can make important decisions regarding the Constitution and the rights of Americans. It protects civil liberties by declaring laws unconstitutional and upholds the Bill of Rights, the document that enables freedom of speech. Barrett, who has just been confirmed to the Court, will not uphold these liberties.
Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court on Oct. 26, 8 days before Election Day. Voters didn’t get to make that decision. McConnell didn’t let us make that decision, even when millions had already voted. He pushed through a nominee, ignoring that he said the American people should have a voice in this decision.
My rights as a queer woman are being threatened now that the court is majority conservative and could overturn Roe and Obergefell. The only thing we can do now is vote and fight to uphold the rights of all Americans, no matter what decisions the court will make now.