The full Senate will vote today on whether to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, an appeals court judge, to the United States Supreme Court, a decision which could solidify the conservative majority on the nation’s highest court.
After meeting with Barrett on Oct. 21, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said he will be voting in favor of confirming her, extolling her credentials, record and ability to keep legislative policies out of the court, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously on Oct. 22 to advance Barrett’s nomination. The 10 Democrats on the GOP-led committee boycotted the vote in protest of the nomination being rushed before the election, the Associated Press reported.
Barrett’s advancement was sealed after a decisive victory of 51-48 in the procedural vote on Oct. 25. Only two of the 53 Republicans opposed her, Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska). However, Murkowski said she will vote for Barrett in the final vote, CNN reported.
Not only is it unethical for the Republicans to support U.S. President Donald Trump’s nomination with only eight days until election day, but it is also hypocritical, as several Republicans reacted differently when the same scenario was presented four years ago.
In 2016, former President Barack Obama nominated former Judge Merrick Garland, a moderate appeals court judge, following the death of former Justice Antonin Scalia. Despite this occurring in February, nearly nine months before the election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared all nominations by the sitting president to be “null and void” and insisted the next justice be chosen after the election, NPR reported.
That same year, Toomey said given the “unusual context” of the vacancy and the fact that the U.S. was already well into the election process, it made the most sense to give the American people a direct say in the decision by waiting until after the election, according to a release from his office.
Toomey and McConnell, along with other Republican senators, only agree on nominating a justice in an election year when they have the majority rule, said Hannah Seewald, a sophomore communication and social influence major and president of Ignite at Temple U, an organization of politically active women.
“It is questionable and hypocritical, but not surprising, and that’s the truth of the situation,” Seewald added. “People are going to change back and forth based on the circumstances.”
McConnell has also said at least five times that the president should not confirm a Supreme Court justice in an election year, coining this principle as the “Biden rule.” This nickname comes from then-Sen. Joe Biden’s urging of the Senate to delay a hypothetical justice confirmation until after an election if a vacancy appears following the contentious confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas in 1992, Mother Jones reported.
Ironically, McConnell called Democrats “hypocrites” for wanting to confirm Garland in an election year, Mother Jones reported.
After being accused of having double standards in regards to the Supreme Court, McConnell defended himself by saying this year is “different” than 2016 because both the White House and the Senate are controlled by Republicans, Politico reported.
If anything, the political party in power is subject to change after the election, all the more reason why it is immoral to nominate a justice before everyone has had the opportunity to cast their vote.
“I don’t think much has changed since 2016,” said Grace Spurrier, a junior political science major and interim president of Temple College Democrats. “The difference is that we have a Republican president now.”
The Republicans have drawn a party line into the sand by doing whatever it takes to have their legacy last the lifetime of 48-year-old Barrett. The push for Barrett only proves the Republicans in the Senate value partisanship more than principle.
Senate Republicans will continue to contradict themselves, as long as it’s for their own political gain, said Michael Hagen, a political science professor.
“What matters is political power, and that’s what’s going to allow the Republicans it seems to go ahead and do this,” Hagen added.
The nomination of Barrett shows the true colors of the Republicans. They are eager to confirm Barrett, even if it goes against the assertions they made four years ago.
But Temple students and faculty still have a say in the outcome of this nomination and future Senate decisions, Hagen said.
“We should all be in contact with our senators to let them know how we feel about the decision,” Hagen added. “This is when we should be actively speaking up.”
We cannot trust politicians who go back on their word and blatantly flip-flop on the same issue, nor can we put our faith in those who deny the people a say in this nomination.
“Confirming a justice right now is an injustice to the country,” Seewald said.