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HESS: Protect the Supreme Court

Senate Democrats and the rest of the nation cannot allow Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell to push through another nominee until after the next president is inaugurated

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tragically passed away Sept. 18. After serving 27 years on the Supreme Court, her seat is open, giving President Donald Trump the opportunity to influence the court even further with his third nominee. Whoever his new nominee is would make six of the nine justices sitting on the Court Republican nominees, with one third of them being his own ultra-conservative justices. Not only will this potential nominee define the course of American politics for a generation, it directly violates a precedent set by Senate Republicans when they refused to hear or vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court in 2016 — their reason being that it was only eight months before the general election. Now, it is less than two months before the 2020 election and Republicans are attempting to push through a nominee, directly contradicting their actions four years ago. So much power rests in the hands of the Supreme Court, and we cannot allow another bigoted Trump justice to fill the open seat.

Over the years, Justice Ginsburg’s vote on the Court has been an important and deciding one, from marriage equality, the legitimacy of Obamacare, abortion rights and gender equality issues. Without her crucial vote over the years, gay marriage may still be illegal in many states and abortion rights could be even more restrictive. That crucial balance is now at risk with Trump, who is most likely going to nominate Amy Coney Barrett, a far-right judge with anti-LGBTQ+ connections and a history of infringing on abortion rights. The progress that has been made in this country is at risk, but what is even scarier is that this nominee may obstruct progress that is still to come. If a future Congress and president ever passes A Green New Deal, medicare-for-all or more restrictive gun measures in our country, it might not even matter. The far-right Supreme Court, composed of three Trump nominees — Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and potentially Barrett — may rule these laws unconstitutional. Trump’s nominees have been super conservative pawns put in place to put down any policy that even sways to the left. One more justice will be a conservative force that will be felt for decades.

This is a scary moment in the United States, and sadly over half of the Senate does not even seem to care that they are being blatantly hypocritical. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who refused to hear Obama’s nominee in 2016, is now set on pushing through Trump’s nominee before the election. Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in 2016 said, “I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.” Even with this clear and concise language four years ago, Graham has completely flip-flopped on the issue. While two GOP Senators, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have hinted that they will not vote on a nominee before the election, it is unclear if they will follow through. Even with their abstentions, it most likely will not be enough. The GOP has the votes and the presidency, which gives them complete control of the nomination process.

Senate decorum is dead — it is time to move on and fight back against the prospect of a Supreme Court stacked with far-right justices. It would be nice if the Republicans in the Senate would honor their own words from a few years ago and respect the institution. Everyone should call their senators and push for a nomination hearing after the next president is elected.Voting does not solve all of our problems, but there is a chance here to stop Trump and McConnell before they nominate a justice. It is important that Trump be removed from the White House and McConnell from the control of the Senate if we want to preserve the Court. If they are able to push a new justice through, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., better listen to his own words, which were, “Nothing is off the table.” If Trump gets his nominee through, the Democrats better be prepared to pack the courts and add more Supreme Court justices. This fight is not about winning and losing, but rather a commitment to ensuring that the Supreme Court does not degrade the rights of marginalized groups in our country through far-right extremist justices.

Hunter Hess is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at

The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. Columns represent the views of the authors alone.