The Joke That is Partisan Politics


Will Dolan

Pretty often, one can see grave discrepancies in the actions and deeds of the only two powerful parties in the government of the United States. Examples in federal government include how hospitals are bombed in Afghanistan by the same party that created the Affordable Care Act to enable people to be able to go to hospitals, or how the party that is supposedly pro-life executing seven people this year after a 17 year hiatus. For both, the last two impeachments have been the same arguments, just on different sides. Once again we have found another irony, the election of Supreme Court justices in election years. 

A little over a week ago, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died after serving for 27 years on the high court of the land. This left a vacancy in the court of nine. The only problem is: who should nominate the next judge? It is the job of the president to nominate federal judges, but during an election year, this becomes a sort of gray area. In theory, to support democratic principles, the newly elected president would nominate the judge, because the election would not just be the election of a president, but the Justice as well. In 2016, after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died, then President Obama nominated a new justice for the Supreme Court. At that time, Conservatives were citing this precedent of waiting until the election to nominate a judge. 

Flash forward four years, and Conservatives have flipped sides completely on the issue. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, only hours after the death of Ginsburg, announced that he intended to fill the vacancy as soon as possible. Four years ago, only hours after the death of Scalia, McConnell issued a statement saying that the American people should have a say in the next justice. This happened in February, still eight months away from the 2016 election. This year, Ginsburg’s was about a month and a half before the election.

In the past four years, there has been no major change in precedence, yet parties completely flip sides. In 2016, if Democrats had control of the Senate, they most likely would have appointed Merrick Garland, but that does not make this whole situation better. Time and time again parties vote along party lines without being consistent in their decisions. The entire process in times like this is a power trip; those in power will do it just because they can. 

This appointment of a single justice would have effects on years to come. The most simple effect of an appointment would sway the court significantly to the right for decades to come. There are also much more pressing matters that could happen very soon.

The most important immediate matter is the outcome of the election. Donald Trump has voiced his hatred of mail in voting for some time. Despite the significant amount of evidence that disagrees with him, he still might contest the results of the election on these grounds. If he could take the outcome of a contested election to the Supreme Court, a strongly conservative majority would almost guarantee his win. 

Even if Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court, in the chance that Democrats sweep elections this year and Joe Biden becomes the next president, Democrats might have the opportunity to pack the court. Even from an constitutional originalist point of view, one could see that the Supreme Court was never meant to be held by such a majority. Although highly unorthodox, packing the court is completely legal, because the Constitution does not dictate a specific number of justices on the Supreme Court. 

Obviously, not all of this is set in stone, we still have to see how this turns out. The outcome of this appointment could dictate major laws for decades to come. Either way, 2020 is going to be a year to go down in the history books.