Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Friday, Sept. 18, has left Americans wondering what the future holds and how she will be replaced. President Trump filled the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacancy two years ago, and has now been tasked with presenting another nomination. However, it is uncertain how long the process of confirmation will take and how it will be carried out.
The President of the United States is responsible for the nomination of Supreme Court justices “with the Advice and Consent of the Senate” as stated in Article II Section II of the U.S. Constitution. Section II also states that the president may “fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate,” however, Cornell Law clarifies that a judge who is appointed when the Senate is not in session may later be disapproved and removed from office by the Senate. Traditionally, the president’s nomination must be approved by the Senate with a majority vote.
According to Georgetown Law, after the president announces a nominee, the Senate Judiciary Committee reviews the nominee’s work and “all necessary records” in order to make a recommendation to the Senate. The Senate is then supposed to consider this information in the nominee’s hearing. The hearings are followed by a debate in the Senate, and then the vote takes place.
Since the majority party in the Senate is currently Republican, it is likely that President Trump’s nomination will get approved if the confirmation process occurs during his presidency. Anticipating this, Democrats plan to attempt to postpone the confirmation hearings until after the election in November. According to U.S. News, even if Joe Biden were to win in November, Republicans believe they will be able to complete the process before Inauguration Day in January. The probability of that happening is up for debate because U.S. News also recalls that “the seat held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia became vacant 269 days before the 2016 election,” while Ginsburg’s has become vacant only 46 days before. During Scalia’s vacancy, Republicans were able to push the confirmation all the way past the 2016 election, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh was not appointed until more than a year after Scalia’s death. With the Republican majority in the Senate and President Trump’s swift action to choose a nominee, anything is possible.
President Trump appointing a conservative justice has the potential to create a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Experts are concerned that a conservative majority may lead to landmark cases, such as Roe v. Wade, being overturned. Another significant motivation for Democrats to postpone the confirmation is to honor Ginsburg’s legacy and some of the last words she left for Congress and Americans: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Saturday, Sept. 26. With her nomination, Barrett pledged to become a justice in the mold of the late staunch conservative Scalia, setting another milestone in Trump’s rightward shift of the Supreme Court. An article from CNN states that “Trump and his allies hope that the nomination, and the President’s recognition of Barrett’s balancing act as an accomplished jurist and working mother, could help the President win back some of the conservative women who he has alienated with his leadership style and handling of the pandemic.” However, this nomination has not come without backlash. If Barrett is confirmed and given a seat on the Supreme Court, she would be the sixth conservative justice actively serving. Those opposed to her nomination are concerned based on her views toward reproductive rights, healthcare and LGBTQ+ equality. She has made it known that she intends to follow in the footsteps of her mentor Justice Scalia when discerning important cases. Her nomination came just eight days after the death of Justice Ginsburg.
By Katelyn Wiszowaty, A&E Editor, and Rachel Van Horne, News Editor