A week after the death of Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg and less than 40 days before the presidential election, US President Donald Trump would have already chosen the replacement for progressive Ginsburg in court.
According to American media such as The New York Times and CNN and CBS television networks, the new member of the court will be conservative magistrate Amy Coney Barrett, who has been a favorite for the post since the beginning. But, as the funeral procedures for Ginsburg only end this Friday (25/9), the appointment should be formalized only on Saturday (26). Still on Friday, the White House declined to comment on the matter.
The choice of Trump will confirm that Republicans opted to take the opposite path to what they themselves advocated in 2016, when conservative judge Antonin Scalia died nine months before the election and then Democratic President Barack Obama was blocked by Senate President Republican Mitch McConnell of choose a replacement.
At the time, McConnell justified his action by saying that, as the elections were close, the choice should be left to the next president-elect, to ensure that the Americans have a “voice” in choosing the new member of the Supreme Court.
This time, McConnell, who remains president of the Senate, took the opposite view. And the fact that Trump has chosen a replacement indicates that he is sure to have a majority vote in the Legislative House to approve the name. The question now is whether confirmation will take place before or after the elections, on November 3.
Who is Amy Coney Barrett?
Amy Coney Barrett will be President Donald Trump’s third appointment to the Supreme Court and the fifth woman to hold one of the nine highest positions in the American judiciary in history. It will also be the judge who will definitely change the balance of the court, which for decades has balanced itself on decisions based on a tight majority, from 5 to 4, most of the time in favor of conservatives, possibly in favor of liberals. With Barrett, the right would have enough margin to win the disputes by 6 to 3.
Barrett’s name had already emerged as a possibility in Trump’s earlier nominations, but people familiar with the president’s decision-making process said he chose to “reserve it for Ginsburg”. And that moment has come now.
At 48, Barrett is a career judge. She was an adjunct to Judge Scalia for 15 years and, in 2017, held a post at the Seventh Court of Appeal in Chicago.
A mother of seven, she is also a devout Catholic and has argued that “life begins at conception”, which explains her position against abortion, as opposed to Ginsburg. One of the main agendas of the current conservative movement in the United States is the overthrow of the decision Roe vs. Wade, who in 1973 guaranteed that abortion is legal across the country. Barrett may be the missing vote for that.
But it is not only in reproductive law that the new magistrate is aligned with Trumpism. She has already expressed positions in favor of restrictive migration policies, the limitation or extinction of the so-called Obamacare, the public health access program in the United States, and the expansion of the rights to possession and possession of weapons, all of which are dear to the electoral base of the United States. Republican, running for re-election.
One of the few topics on which Barrett and Trump seem to disagree, however, is the death penalty. While Trump resumed capital punishment for federal criminals in 2019, Barrett pointed out in an article, written in 1998, that the Pope was opposed to the death penalty and argued that a Catholic magistrate could plead conflict of conscience to get away from a case whose outcome was such a penalty.
In 2017, to be confirmed to the Chicago appeals court, Barrett had to face Senate scrutiny. Democratic senators wanted to know how their religious fervor could interfere with Barrett’s legal decisions.
“A judge can never subvert the law or distort it in any way to match his convictions,” she said.
At the same hearing, she stated that she would never fail to apply Supreme Court jurisprudence because of her religious beliefs. And declined to comment on his opinion on the decision in the Roe vs. Wade. Now, however, it will be she who defines, with the other eight colleagues, what the country’s jurisprudence is. And it is difficult to say how much your faith will move you in the decision.
What does the move mean for Trump’s re-election attempt?
The election result of the nomination is uncertain, considering that 52% of Americans say that Trump should not even do it, against 39% who support him in the decision, according to an aggregate of 12 polls made by the website FiveThirtyEight.
In the past few months, the president has lost a series of decisions in the Supreme Court and found himself in direct conflict with magistrates who did not support his attempt to overthrow Obamacare or to include questions about the migratory status of foreigners in the American census, a form of embarrassment undocumented migrants.
In view of the results, Trump went so far as to say that “we need new judges” in an attempt to encourage his conservative base to go to the polls and guarantee another four years at the White House.
Now Trump can try to confirm Barrett’s name before election day, which would be a record-breaking vote compared to previous ones, or use pending approval as a way to encourage voters to guarantee not only his re-election, but the Republican majority in the Senate. If he fails to do so, however, he risks losing the possibility of naming yet another conservative name to the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, the effect that Barrett’s choice would have on the female and white electorate of American suburbs, which is considered key to the dispute in 2020, is uncertain.
In 2016, Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in that segment, but the way the president managed the coronavirus epidemic and racial tensions caused discomfort in this group, which began to express support for Biden. On average seven percentage points ahead of Trump in national polls, Biden even opens a margin of 23 points ahead when only the female vote is taken into account.
Aware of the problem, in August Trump tried to put in place a strategy to attract them by fear.
“Suburban housewives, Joe Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American dream. I will preserve them and make them even better,” tweeted Trump in August, in a marketing strategy to put himself as the representative of the law and the order in the country and accuse Democrats of supporting acts of violence in racial justice protests.
If the appeal had any effect with the public, the president enters more risky terrain now, signaling that his actions can ban abortion in the country. In the past two years, different polls have shown that women in the suburbs are in favor of legalizing abortion, despite being, in general, religious and republican.
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