Donald Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. She rejects Obama’s health care reform and abortions.
Sent into the race: Donald Trump and Amy Coney Barrett in the White House on Saturday Photo: Alex Brandon / ap
NEW YORK taz | Donald Trump has fulfilled the wildest dreams of his supporters. On Saturday he nominated Amy Coney Barrett as his candidate for the Supreme Court. The president called the judge “a woman of remarkable intellect and character” and “one of the most gifted legal minds in our nation.” He also thought it appropriate to extol her as a “deeply devoted mother.”
If the Republican majority in the Senate confirms Barrett – what it looks like – the court will get a solid, conservative majority of six to three for the first time in decades. That is enough to overturn or undermine numerous reforms: from the rights of women, immigrants and minorities to social benefits and the Obamacare health care reform. At the same time, it will anchor the highest legal authority in the country, on whose table all contested political projects will eventually end up, well beyond the next presidency. Because the office is for life and Barrett is only 48.
Trump was in a hurry to fill the position vacated by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The 87-year-old died on Friday of the previous week after a long illness. According to information from her family, she had recently dictated a last will to her granddaughter Clara Spera: “My greatest wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is in office.”
But Trump already promised in his first election campaign in 2016 that he would fill the courts with conservatives who are critical of “Roe versus Wade”. The 1973 landmark ruling gave women in the United States the right to have an abortion. For fundamentalist evangelicals, whose votes Trump needs in November, the abolition – or at least hollowing out – of “Roe versus Wade” is an obsession. With Barrett, Trump could announce the success of the legal crusade that the Republicans in Washington have been preparing for decades. In the past four years he has changed the judicial landscape with the nomination of more than 200 federal judges – including two for the highest court. Regardless of upcoming elections, these judges can determine the direction the country will take in the future. Trump’s judges are young (average age at the nomination: 48 years), the majority white (85 percent) and right-wing.
With the Barrett nomination in the rose garden of the White House, the US president tried to achieve a certain non-partisan gesture. But just a few minutes later, in a communiqué, he described his move with the same words that he also used in the election campaign. In this Barrett is “crucial to make America great again”.
From the other end of the spectrum
As the successor to the left-liberal “RBG”, Barrett would benefit from the fact that the deceased paved the way for women to the top of power. But politically and legally it comes from the extreme other end of the spectrum. Law professor and current appellate judge Barrett is a member of the same conservative Federalist Society as the five conservative men who are already on the Supreme Court. The members of this group claim that they interpret the constitution as it is supposed to have been meant at the end of the 18th century. Barrett calls herself a “textualist” and an “originalist”. The self-determination of women over their bodies, equal rights for homosexuals and the protection of the right to vote for African-Americans did not occur in the minds of the founding fathers. When they wrote their constitution, women had no say in politics and black men and women were slaves.
The Catholic Barrett belongs to the arch-conservative group of charismatic Christians “People of Praise”. And is also one of the lawyers in the anti-abortion group “Faculty for Life”. Freedom of religion is more important to her than the protection of special rights.
After the death of the seriously ill Bader Ginsburg, the Democratic Party asked the Senate to wait until the next president took office before nominating a successor. The Democrats reminded the Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell that he himself refused to even hear Obama’s candidate to succeed the late Judge Antonin Scalia in the 2016 election year. McConnell argued at the time that the Supreme Court could not be replaced so close to the elections. Scalia died eight months before the 2016 elections, Bader Ginsburg just six weeks before the upcoming elections.
To McConnell and almost all other Republicans, positioning the Supreme Court to the right is more important than the slogan that they themselves issued years ago. Currently, only two Republican Senators are considering not voting on the Supreme Court before the election. Even without these two, Republicans have enough votes to confirm Trump’s judge.
Democrats lack a strategy
The Democratic Party, which a few days ago was optimistic about the upcoming elections, has had its back to the wall since the death of “RBG”. The party does not yet have a political strategy to prevent Barrett’s confirmation in the Senate. Your presidential candidate Joe Biden only appeals to the “conscience” of the Republican Senators. Other democrats are threatening to increase the number of members of the supreme court in the future (a step that is controversial in democratic ranks).
Left groups and civil rights organizations warn that Barrett’s affirmation jeopardizes many rights and makes overdue reform projects a seemingly unreachable distance. With a solid conservative majority in the court, the financial influence of corporations over politicians will grow, if no support for environmental and climate policy is to be expected, the gun lobby can prepare for long-term support from the very top and will become outdated institutions from the early years of USA originated – like the Electoral College, which elects the US President – will remain untouched.
The Republicans in the Senate want to start the Barrett hearings on October 12th and confirm them a few days before the November 3rd elections. If it works, she could have a say in Obama’s most important reform project, health care reform, just a week after the elections. In the year of the pandemic, which has already cost more than 200,000 lives in the US, it could cost millions of people health insurance. And if the result of the presidential election is challenged in court – which can be assumed – Barrett, as judge, would also have a say in the decision of the next president of the USA.
Despite their opposition to Barrett, the Democrats must adopt a more cautious tone towards her than they did when Trump was last nominated for the Supreme Court. Unlike Brett Kavanaugh, who was not a good exponent of his own cause in the face of rape allegations, Barrett has a winning demeanor. With this, and with cleverly chosen answers and omissions, the lawyer already impressed in 2017 when she was nominated to an appeals court.
On Saturday, she came to the ceremony with her husband and seven children – including two adopted children from Haiti. The only faux pas: The youngest child, who has Down syndrome, did not come on stage for the final group photo with the president and his wife.