We are not supposed to talk about this: Supreme Court decisions

Fariba Lale – Columnist

    When Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away last month, liberal blue checks took to Twitter, threatening violence and riots should President Trump nominate a replacement before the election, while democratic leadership pointed to Ginsburg’s desire not to be replaced until a new president took office. 

    Back in 2016, Senator McConnell and other republicans held that the vacancy left by Justice Scalia should not be filled during the election year. But, anyways, since time is a flat circle and nothing means anything, confirmation hearings for Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, began on Monday, Oct. 12.

    If confirmed, Barrett’s nomination would mean a six-three conservative majority in the Supreme Court. In her opening statements on Monday, she presented herself as an originalist when it comes to interpreting the law, emphasizing that she strives to reach decisions that are not based on personal preference or partisan leanings. 

    I might buy that if, first, justices were granted some type of godlike power that separated them from us mortals by guaranteeing them infallible judgment and, second, the Constitution was not written at a time when only a small, selective subsection of the American population was considered fully human and worthy of rights and liberties at all.

    In discussing the significance of this nomination, the focus, from a liberal standpoint, has fallen squarely on social issues. The protection of the Roe v. Wade ruling, the Affordable Care Act and LGBTQ+ rights are all issues that have dominated this conversation. 

    A number of questions have been brought up in the hearing as of Tuesday, Oct. 13. I mean, sort of. Softball questions that Barrett has, more often than not, outright refused to answer. You know the drill.

    An area that has been less discussed in the news cycle and in the hearing thus far is Barrett’s record as it pertains to workers’ rights. Most recently, in August, she ruled in favor of Grubhub over its delivery drivers who were trying to sue the company for refusing them overtime pay. And this type of behavior is not some kind of anomaly for her. 

    It would be a great issue to press her on too because something like this has the ability to cross party lines easily, and it is clearly displayed in her record. Alas! It becomes a hell of a lot more difficult to condemn your opponent’s alignment with corporate interests when your own party is at least as corporatist, through and through.

    Speaking of which, I want to take a second to check in with the opposition party. Cartoonishly oversized scare quotes have been redacted for clarity. There has been a good deal of handwringing and moaning about how mean and unfair the republicans are for pulling this stunt. 

    Which is, um, hilarious because why wouldn’t they? I cannot understand how these people keep trying to coax some sense of shame or sympathy or whatever from the likes of Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and co., as if their entire brand is not being heartless assholes who do and take whatever they want. Democrats know this. 

    The only explanation that makes sense to me is that, surprise, the resistance is purely symbolic and void of any real substance. Republicans should absolutely be trying to jam a nominee through right now. It is in their best interest. Simple as that. The question is, what are democrats going to do in response?

    One of the big questions on the table is the possibility of packing the Court in the event that Barrett is confirmed and Biden takes office after the fact. Since Ginsburg’s death, Biden has been awful coy about this question. 

    At the debate, for example, he deflected it outright, stating that whichever answer he gave would be perceived as bad. However, there has still been speculation lately that he may be considering it or may be pushed to at least.   

     Honestly, I think that whole discussion is a little bit goofy. First of all, everything that comes out of the guy’s mouth is a lie. You have to look at his record to understand anything about how he will actually govern, and, in his record, he makes his position on this practice crystal-clear. 

    He famously condemned court packing as “boneheaded” back in 1983 and, as recently as Oct., 2019, argued that adding justices would undermine the credibility of the Supreme Court. I do not wonder for a second why he was comfortable stating these opinions then and now has suddenly decided it would be better to keep his mouth shut.

     This is extremely concerning to me because it strikes me that, in the democrats’ questioning of Barrett and in Biden’s waffling non-answers regarding the Supreme Court, very little is being done to actually protect the rights of those who would be harmed by a six-three conservative majority. I am exhausted by trying to unpack the Democrats’ 4D chess that consistently results in nothing fundamentally changing. 

    And, most of all, I am concerned that, less than a month before the election, all Biden has to say on the matter is that he is “not a fan” of court packing and does not want to discuss it further. He has this thing going on where he only looks good, or even acceptable, when he is granted what is, in my opinion, utterly undeserved benefit of the doubt. 

     We are just supposed to vote for him and trust that he will fight for us — based on what? Faith? I do not think this is serious for him, or any of the democrats, because it is not. 

     They have no stake in the game. And if Barrett is confirmed (which, in all likelihood, she will be), I would be shocked if democrats so much as reconsidered their good manners and polite tone, even when millions of Americans are stripped of their health insurance as a result.

Luther Abel – Columnist

    Amy Coney Barrett, known to some as the Glorious ACB, and to others as the greatest threat to American democracy since whatever happened last week. A presidential debate, I think? No matter, short memory and a decidedly finite intellectual capacity never kept me from having an opinion.  

    By my lights, this confirmation should go through with very little fuss. The nominee is solid, the votes are there to confirm her and that should be that. However, because nothing is ever simple, the republicans — during the nomination of Merrick Garland — spoke too broadly in defending their choice of not permitting President Obama’s nominee a hearing. 

    This means they must now defend remarks made about “letting the voters decide,” delaying the appointment until after the election of 2016. Never mind for a second that democrats made all sorts of noise about how judicial seats must be filled immediately at the time.

    By failing to exercise precise language in 2016, republicans are now over a barrel of their own making. They should have been honest about why they halted Garland’s nomination, namely that the Grand Old Party (GOP) had the Senate and were in no way constitutionally compelled to do anything they didn’t want to do regarding judicial appointments. 

    If Obama wanted a nominee approved, his party shouldn’t have hemorrhaged seats in the federal legislature in 2010 and 2014. While the GOP will have to wrestle with public perception of their 2016 statements — looking at you, Lindsey Graham — they ultimately will have their way. 

    People can pitch a fit about it, many have, but elections have consequences. The democratic failures on the state-level are the fault of no one but party leadership and Obama’s circumvention of the legislature.

    The democrats are up against a wall, and they know it. For one, they don’t control the White House and Senate, the two places through which a judicial appointee must go for confirmation. 

    Secondly, Barrett is exceptionally qualified with a spotless personal history, which makes attacks against her personal life look petty and unfounded. One phrase, in particular, uttered by the incomparable Dianne Feinstein, “The dogma lives loudly within you,” at Barrett’s U.S. Court of Appeals appointment will haunt them for years to come. 

    If they make fools of themselves at the hearings, the gains they hope to make legislatively may be endangered. Should Biden prevail but fail to win the Senate, it will be a long four years for dems of Cocaine Mitch smacking down each and every bill that emanates from the House. 

    Third, there is, in fact, precedent for appointing judicial nominees in an election year when both the Senate and presidency agree on the nominee’s Merrick. I mean, merit. Threats of court-packing — adding seats on the Supreme Court through legislative action — are ill-conceived and dangerous. Dems have got nothin’, and they know it. 

    The question which most interests me looking at the relationship between this appointment and November is: can Trump win after Barrett is appointed? Many people held their noses and voted for him last time because losing the seat of Scalia to some activist, judicial nominee from a Clinton administration would have been too much to bear. 

    Now that Trump has delivered a likely three appointments, the danger of judicial legislating is diminished — by judicial legislating, I mean: a judge not interpreting the law but instead adding to established law what was never intended to be there. It is not the job of a judge to read into law what they would like to see there, in other words. 

    With Barrett, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh appointed, I think a sufficient number of people will either not bother voting or cast their ballot for Biden with the thought that the wheels are unlikely to come off the cart. After all, the Trump show is exhausting, and watching Biden walk into walls in the White House might make for a blissfully quiet four years.

    Whatever may happen between now and December, the appointment of Barrett to the highest court is a good thing. 

    She symbolizes what women can achieve in the U.S., a feminist icon who succeeds extraordinarily in the workplace and in the home. May she judge wisely, eschew bias and live a long and happy life. 

Agree? Disagree? Either way, I’d like to hear your thoughts. I can be contacted at abell@lawrence.edu