Democrats push to expand the Supreme Court in the wake of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation

By Lexi Meola

Elm Staff Writer

On Oct. 26, 2020, Judge Amy Coney Barrett was sworn into the Supreme Court.

Barrett was President Donald Trump’s third Supreme Court appointment during his term. Her confirmation turns the Supreme Court into a 6–3 conservative majority.

This nomination was controversial, seeing as how it happened eight days before the presidential election and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senate Democrats expressed distain for Senate Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to rush this nomination through — citing their refusal to give former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court appointee Merrick Garland a hearing back in 2016 on the grounds that it was too soon before the election. At the time, the election was eight months away.

According to NPR, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “My colleagues, there is no escaping this glaring hypocrisy…Nearly every Republican in this chamber led by the majority leader four years ago refused to even consider the Supreme Court nomination of a Democratic president on the grounds…that we should wait until after the presidential election because the American people deserved a voice in the selection of their next justice.”

Some women are worried about Barrett’s stances on serious cases like Roe v. Wade, which protects the right to safe and legal abortions and other reproductive rights for women.

According to The New York Times, “Judge Barrett has considered three laws restricting abortions from her home state, Indiana.” 

Many Americans are also concerned that Barrett may vote to strip their health care rights after the Affordable Care Act returned to the Supreme Court on Nov. 10. 

Barrett’s confirmation could result in many Americans having their healthcare and reproductive rights taken away. Considering that the country is in the worst pandemic since the 1918 flu, getting rid of the Affordable Care Act with no replacement plan is not in the country’s best interest.

The New York Times reported, “There still does not seem to be any plan, because other than abolishing the Affordable Care Act — which requires insurers to cover pre-existing conditions and which the White House is asking the Supreme Court to overturn — the Republican Party cannot agree on one.”

In response to Republicans fast-tracking Barrett’s confirmation, many Democrats are calling on President-Elect Joe Biden to pack the court — a practice where more judges are added to the bench. This would get rid of the conservative majority, bringing ease to Democrats when it comes time for Supreme Court Justices to decide on important issues. 

“The Constitution says nothing about how many justices there must be on the Supreme Court, and over time, the number has fluctuated. The court started out with six justices, expanded to seven and has gone as high as 10,” The Washington Post said.

While the reason why Democrats want to pack the court is understandable, this would make it possible for every future administration, whether it be Democrat or Republican, to add as many justices as they see fit. This could easily get out of hand — theoretically, one day the Supreme Court could end up with as many as 50 justices. Supreme Court cases could take much longer and would leave too many people in positions of power. The Supreme Court justices are lifetime appointments and can only be removed from the court after impeachment.

Many Americans have lost trust in their government after this rushed confirmation, the chaos of the 2020 election, and the lack of leadership within the White House amid Trump’s weak handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We need to reform the Supreme Court in a way that will strengthen its independence and restore the American people’s trust in it as a check to the presidency and the Congress,” former Mayor of South Bend, Ind. Pete Buttigieg said.

Packing the court is a controversial topic in both parties and may only lead to more disagreement within our already divided country. Packing the court will not stop the problems the country faces. In order to unite our country, Americans must work with each other no matter their political affiliation. 

Featured Photo caption: Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the United States Supreme Court has sparked outrage amongst Democrats, who are pushing for a constitutional court expansion. Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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