NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, October 26th, 2020

Republicans install the unqualified Amy Coney Barrett on the United States Supreme Court

Mitch McConnel­l’s Sen­ate Repub­li­can cau­cus today com­plet­ed its objec­tive of pack­ing the Unit­ed States Supreme Court with a super­ma­jor­i­ty of right wing jurists, over­rid­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic objec­tions and vot­ing to install Don­ald Trump’s unqual­i­fied nom­i­nee Amy Coney Bar­rett to take the place of the late Jus­tice Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg, who had asked that her seat not be filled before the election.

The vote was fifty-two to forty-eight, with Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Susan Collins of Maine (who pre­vi­ous­ly vot­ed for Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gor­such) vot­ing nay along with the Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers and the cham­ber’s two independents.

The roll call from the Pacif­ic North­west was as follows:

Vot­ing Aye to Con­firm Amy Coney Bar­rett: Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Mike Crapo and Jim Risch of Ida­ho, Dan Sul­li­van and Lisa Murkows­ki of Alas­ka, Steve Daines of Montana

Vot­ing Nay, to Reject the Nom­i­na­tion: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Pat­ty Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell of Wash­ing­ton, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Ore­gon, Jon Tester of Montana

Coney Bar­rett was sworn in almost imme­di­ate­ly, as Repub­li­cans want her on the Supreme Court in time to par­tic­i­pate in any elec­tion-relat­ed cases.

Incensed Democ­rats point­ed out the rank hypocrisy of Mitch McConnel­l’s cau­cus, not­ing that four years ago, McConnell refused to even give Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma’s nom­i­nee Mer­rick Gar­land a hear­ing. (Gar­land was nom­i­nat­ed to replace Antonin Scalia.) Repub­li­cans have pathet­i­cal­ly tried to argue that since they hold the Sen­ate and the pres­i­den­cy, the prece­dent they set in 2016 does not apply.

But of course, that is sim­ply an invi­ta­tion for Democ­rats to ignore their con­cerns as soon as they hold the pres­i­den­cy and the Sen­ate, some­thing that could hap­pen with­in just a few weeks if the Democ­rats do well in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial election.

Bar­ret­t’s expe­ri­ence con­sists of two years of pri­vate prac­tice, fif­teen years of teach­ing expe­ri­ence, and a short stint on an appel­late court.

She has nev­er tried a case, nev­er argued an appeal, nev­er argued before the Unit­ed States Supreme Court, and did not become a judge until 2017. Fur­ther­more, she has very lit­tle expe­ri­ence han­dling crim­i­nal cases.

In short, Bar­rett is not qual­i­fied to sit on the high­est court in the land.

Bar­rett may be qual­i­fied to prac­tice law, but she is def­i­nite­ly not an appro­pri­ate choice to suc­ceed the late, great Jus­tice Ruth Bad­er Ginsburg.

Repub­li­cans don’t care. Their goal is a high­ly par­ti­san, mil­i­tant, right wing Court that can even defy Chief Jus­tice John Roberts on those occa­sions when Roberts does not want to be a judi­cial activist. With Bar­rett, they now have a five per­son bloc that can be expect­ed to dis­re­gard prece­dent and estab­lished, set­tled law in favor of non­sen­si­cal right wing inter­pre­ta­tions of the Con­sti­tu­tion and fed­er­al law.

“The rushed and unprece­dent­ed con­fir­ma­tion of Amy Coney Bar­rett as Asso­ciate Jus­tice to the Supreme Court, in the mid­dle of an ongo­ing elec­tion, should be a stark reminder to every Amer­i­can that your vote mat­ters,” said Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee Joe Biden in a state­ment released after the vote.

“Just a few days after Elec­tion Day next week, the Supreme Court will hear the case on the [Patient Pro­tec­tion and] Afford­able Care Act. While pan­icked and errat­ic in mis­han­dling the pan­dem­ic, Don­ald Trump has been crys­tal clear on one thing — for the past four years, and again just last night on 60 Min­utes — he wants to tear down the Afford­able Care Act in its entire­ty and take away your health care and pro­tec­tions for pre-exist­ing conditions.”

“This goal — the goal of the Repub­li­can Par­ty for ten years — was a lit­mus test in select­ing this nom­i­nee, regard­less of the dam­age done to the U.S. Sen­ate, to Amer­i­cans’ faith in the legit­i­ma­cy of the Supreme Court, and to our democ­ra­cy, and regard­less of how the Afford­able Care Act has pro­tect­ed hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple before and dur­ing the pandemic.”

“Today will go down as one of the dark­est days in the two hun­dred and thir­ty-one year his­to­ry of the Unit­ed States Sen­ate,” Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said. “Let the record show that tonight the Repub­li­can Sen­ate major­i­ty decid­ed to thwart the will of the peo­ple and con­firm a life­time appoint­ment to the Supreme Court in the mid­dle of a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion after more than six­ty mil­lion Amer­i­cans have voted.”

“Eight days before an elec­tion, Don­ald Trump and Repub­li­cans have ignored the will of the Amer­i­can peo­ple and forced through a nom­i­nee who rep­re­sents the gravest threat to health care and repro­duc­tive rights in a gen­er­a­tion, even as the admin­is­tra­tion gives up on try­ing to con­trol the coro­n­avirus and fights in court to remove pro­tec­tions for peo­ple with pre­ex­ist­ing con­di­tions,” said Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee Chair Tom Perez.

“This vote is a dis­grace to our democ­ra­cy and a betray­al of the Amer­i­can people’s wish­es. That’s why vot­ers are already flock­ing to the polls and mail­ing in their bal­lots in record num­bers to send Don­ald Trump pack­ing. They under­stand what’s at stake in this elec­tion. Health care is on the bal­lot. LGBTQ rights, vot­ing rights, and work­ers’ rights are on the bal­lot. The future of our plan­et is on the ballot.”

For­mer Sen­a­tor Russ Fein­gold, the head of the Amer­i­can Con­sti­tu­tion Soci­ety, vowed a fierce response from the coun­try’s pro­gres­sive legal community.

“The lawyers and espe­cial­ly the law stu­dents who are mem­bers of the Amer­i­can Con­sti­tu­tion Soci­ety are not going to sit qui­et­ly by as the Right takes away their future. I want them and the Amer­i­can peo­ple to know that since the Right insists on hav­ing a fight about the future of the Court, we are here, we are on your side, and we are ready for that fight,” Fein­gold said in a fiery state­ment.

Schumer, Biden, and oth­er top Democ­rats are com­ing under increas­ing pres­sure to com­mit­ting to expand­ing the judi­cia­ry to restore bal­ance and reverse the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s insid­i­ous court pack­ing initiative.

“Expand the court,” Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez declared.

“Repub­li­cans do this because they don’t believe Dems have the stones to play hard­ball like they do,” she added. “And for a long time they’ve been cor­rect. 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.”

AOC is cor­rect. The Unit­ed States Supreme Court should be prompt­ly expand­ed and new jus­tices nom­i­nat­ed to diver­si­fy the Court.

We’ve seen here in Wash­ing­ton State what can hap­pen when our judi­cia­ry looks like our peo­ple. It was­n’t so long ago that our Court was most­ly old white men. But now, sev­en of nine Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court jus­tices are women. Four are peo­ple of col­or, and three of the four are women of color.

The impact of this rep­re­sen­ta­tion has been profound.

For exam­ple, two weeks ago, the State Supreme Court took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to over­turn a decades old deci­sion that was wrong and racist whilst simul­ta­ne­ous­ly putting the kibosh on Tim Eyman’s uncon­sti­tu­tion­al I‑976. That’s not some­thing a court dom­i­nat­ed by white con­ser­v­a­tives would have done.

The Unit­ed States Supreme Court needs to become more like the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court just as soon as that can be arranged.

Adjacent posts

  • Enjoyed what you just read? Make a donation


    Thank you for read­ing The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s jour­nal of world, nation­al, and local politics.

    Found­ed in March of 2004, The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate has been help­ing peo­ple through­out the Pacif­ic North­west and beyond make sense of cur­rent events with rig­or­ous analy­sis and thought-pro­vok­ing com­men­tary for more than fif­teen years. The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate is fund­ed by read­ers like you and trust­ed spon­sors. We don’t run ads or pub­lish con­tent in exchange for money.

    Help us keep The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate edi­to­ri­al­ly inde­pen­dent and freely avail­able to all by becom­ing a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute today. Or make a dona­tion to sus­tain our essen­tial research and advo­ca­cy journalism.

    Your con­tri­bu­tion will allow us to con­tin­ue bring­ing you fea­tures like Last Week In Con­gress, live cov­er­age of events like Net­roots Nation or the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, and reviews of books and doc­u­men­tary films.

    Become an NPI mem­ber Make a one-time donation

One Comment

  1. Roo­sevelt was remem­bered for want­i­ng to pack the court. The GOP is try­ing to sell the notion that Democ­rats would do that, so I don’t know how the pub­lic would accept that.

    # by Mike Barer :: October 27th, 2020 at 8:48 AM

One Ping

  1. […] was dis­ap­point­ing to hear that not only is Bar­rett under­qual­i­fied for the Supreme Court judge job in com­par­i­son to oth­er judges, but she is also a woman who […]

    Ping from Is Gender Equality Taking a Step Back? - The Observer :: November 15th, 2020 at 8:16 PM