Voting has already started, and there is but a week and a day to go to Election Day, but the Republican-controlled Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court on Monday night.
As was predicted when Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal legal giant of the court, died of cancer last month, Republicans rushed through a nominee, from selection to confirmation, against Ginsburg’s last wish and, more to the point, the precedent they themselves set in the last year of president Barck Obama’s term. Though Barrett declined to answer any number of questions about how she would rule in cases that are expected to come before the court in the near future, her judicial record thus far suggests that she will undo much of Ginsburg’s legacy.
The United States will soon see whether Barrett strays from or confirms expectations. On Monday, mere hours after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, the state of Mississippi petitioned the court to review the state’s 15-week abortion ban, which directly challenges Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that protects a woman’s right to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. The Supreme Court announced it will consider the petition on Friday. It only takes four justices to take up a case. It is possible that the decision on whether to take up the case could be made Monday — that is, the day before the election.
There are other matters at hand, too. Barrett will also be the third justice on the Supreme Court to have worked on the side of Bush in Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court decision that determined which ballots could be counted in the state of Florida in the 2000 election and so handed the victory to George W. Bush. Her confirmation came the same night that the Supreme Court decided in a 5-3 decision to keep the Election Day deadline for absentee voting in Wisconsin, siding with the Republicans and rejecting a Democratic effort to have the deadline extended to 9 November. She will also get to help decide two cases that will determine whether thousands of mail-in ballots in North Carolina and Pennsylvania are nullified. The argument in those cases rests on a concurring argument made in Bush v. Gore.
“A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be undone, sooner or later, by the next election,” Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday. “But the other side won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”
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