We have three distinct and separate branches within our federal government. These are executive, legislative and judicial. There is necessary separation of powers between the three, but they are somewhat equal when it comes to the work.
The highest court in the judiciary is the Supreme Court of the United States. SCOTUS has the final word on constitutional matters in cases that come before it. Indeed, constitutionality is its primary concern, not prevailing politics, but it would be silly to argue personal conviction is not part of its judicial conduct.
President Donald Trump has fulfilled one of his most important duties by placing three justices on the Supreme Court in less than four years. His choices have been conservative as determined by their practices on the bench and through an evaluation of candidates’ temperament, reputation and recommendations among many other factors.
It is the Senate’s responsibility to approve or reject a nominee on the basis of his/her merit and ability. Most nominees are appointed because the judge is thoroughly vetted, sometimes to the point of absurdity. Back in the day, appointing a Supreme Court Justice was fairly routine and viewed by the Senate as a fundamental right of the President. Recent appointments have shown that is no longer true. Qualifications have been battered by partisanship, contentious issues, and self-centered Senators
The Supreme Court’s newest justice is Amy Coney Barrett, a rock solid proponent of literal interpretation of the Constitution. One of the great legal minds of her generation, she recently endured hours of grilling by Senators hopeful she would eventually tip her hand on such matters as Affordable Care, abortion, and the Second Amendment, but Barrett steadfastly refused to falter. To do so would’ve opened the door to accusations of bias. She avoided the traps with admirable poise much to the dismay of Democrats who undoubtedly thought they could outsmart the sharpest kid in the room. It was fun to observe.
Democrats were predictably aghast at Barrett’s appointment so close to a presidential election, but Trump followed the Constitution which clearly gives the President the right to nominate and the Senate the responsibility to advise and consent. There is no Constitutional component or law that says a president has to wait until after an election to nominate although there is some precedence for that. That aside, without a new appointment the Court could’ve been caught in a four-to-four tie without clear resolution on cases before it. Barrett’s confirmation was necessary.
There was nothing the Democrats could do to stop ACB’s confirmation nor could they disqualify her through their usual antics or accusations. Barrett is a moral person with a love for the Constitution and a keen awareness of history and precedence. Except for the usual hardliners on the left, Justice Barrett had solid support from the public.
Barrett was confirmed by a 52 to 48 vote. Every Democrat in the Senate voted against her because she was not of their choosing and because they did not want to give Trump another win before the election. The Dems, in fact, boycotted the vote, thereby demonstrating their immaturity and failure as representatives of the nation as a whole.
The Supreme Court now has five solid conservative votes, enough to cancel the flexible interpretation of the Constitution preferred by the left. The three justices appointed by Democrat presidents are absolutely liberal, but in keeping with democracy, majority rules in the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Roberts is typically moderate and somewhat unpredictable.
Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation displayed yet more bitterness on the part of Democrats who understand much of their agenda may not pass constitutional muster when justices apply a literal rather than a playful interpretation of original intent.
In his absurd Darkest Day speech following the vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer lashed out: “And the next time the American people give Democrats a majority in this chamber, you will have forfeited the right to tell us how to run that majority.”
That was a threat but also a prediction of court packing that failed once before during FDR’s regime. If the numbers don’t work for Democrats who firmly believe only they should have power, they just change the numbers. That’s how they roll.
Larry W. Anderson is a retired educator.