With the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett, American Republican politicians have managed to further secure a Supreme Court that ideologically leans towards the right-wing. Barett has officially replaced the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg — a Democratic icon. Thus, now six out of nine justices favor conservative ideologies. Although the Democratic Joe Biden has won the 2020 Presidential Election, Barrett’s nomination will have long-standing impacts on American society.
Since Barrett appears to vote along very conservative lines — especially regarding civil rights issues — many Americans wonder what the future holds for key Supreme Court rulings that are likely forthcoming. Berrett is notoriously against abortion and immigration, which threatens to dismantle the precedent that Ruth Bader Ginsburg tirelessly strived to set. In fact, research from The Washington Post reveals that Berret is “the second most conservative member of the Court, behind only Justice Clarence Thomas.”
Additionally, Barett has disclosed that she exercises her right to bear arms. While the Supreme Court has not encountered a Second Amendment case since 2008, this could soon change given the current conservative makeup of the Court. Hence, the fate of gun control laws, or lack thereof, is now in the hands of the ring-wing court.
Dr. Nadia Kim, a sociology professor at Loyola Marymount University explained that with Barrett elected, America “will be going back to the days of our Founding Fathers since she’s an originalist who believes that we have to interpret the Constitution the way they intended.” Considering the cultural philosophies that were accepted during the era in which the Constitution was composed, such as the enslavement of Black Americans and suffrage rights being limited to white men, originalism virtually disregards the progression that our society has made since. Dr. Kim went on further to explain that because Barett is an “extremist in her ideology”, minorities such as the LGBTQA+ community, black people, and women will be deeply impacted by her serving as a Supreme Court justice.
In addition to Barrett, President Trump has also appointed Supreme Court justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh during his term. The New York Times reports that President Trump has consequently managed to create an “almost uniformly conservative voting record in cases touching on abortion, gun rights, discrimination, and immigration.” Meanwhile, in President Obama’s eight years of presidency, he was only given the opportunity to nominate two Supreme Court justices, which were Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan.
President Obama did however have the opportunity to elect a third Supreme Court justice but was blocked from doing so at the time by the Republican-controlled Senate. The Senate argued that because President Obama was in the last year of his second presidential term, it should be left to the discretion of the following president. While President Obama was denied this nomination in March 2016, President Trump — also in the last year of his term — was allowed to push Barrett’s confirmation of the Supreme Court through mere weeks before Election Day.
With Joe Biden recently announced as President-elect, USA Today reports that Democrats have begun to discuss strategies for subduing the Republican majority in the Supreme Court. A tactic that is being widely explored is expanding the number of seats in the Supreme Court. On Sept. 21, Mary Kelly stated on NPR’s podcast “All Things Considered” that “nine justices is not actually mandated in the Constitution”, meaning that Congress could pass legislation to expand the bench and fill it with more progressive justices. However, this expansion will be utterly contingent on Georgia’s run-off election results. Democrat candidates must be elected for both of Georgia’s seats in order for the Senate to become Democrat-controlled. With predictions from NBC News that Biden will triumph in this race, “Georgia has been on the forefront of the political evolution of the South.”
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