Are Senate Democrats right to boycott Judge Barrett's SCOTUS confirmation vote?
- Amy Coney Barrett serves on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. For 15 years, she taught at Notre Dame Law School, and was nominated in 2017 by her colleagues as a “model of the fair, impartial and sympathetic judge.”
- President Trump nominated Barrett to fill the Supreme Court seat vacancy. If chosen, she will be the sixth conservative judge, making it possible that Roe v. Wade could be overturned. Trump had two qualifications when deciding on a replacement: opposition to Roe v. Wade and the Affordable Care Act.
- On October 21, Democratic senators boycotted Judge Barrett’s confirmation proceedings, some leaving behind posters of Americans that benefited from the Affordable Care Act. All Republicans on the committee voted in Barrett’s favor.
- Election Day is November 3, 2020.
Without a majority or any chance of bipartisan agreement, Senate Democrats must make a united and meaningful statement to their voters and the general public. Therefore, their boycott is entirely appropriate. The entire process leading to a potential confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett has been excessively partisan, with Republicans taking nothing but their own interests into account. There is essentially nothing Senate Democrats can do to stop the confirmation, so they must make the loudest statement possible to send a message to their constituents and the opposition. The Republicans have shown they are uninterested in a bipartisan process through their hypocritical behavior in attempting to confirm a justice during an election year; Democrats are right not to participate in the process.
Utilizing a boycott approach is a legitimate strategy akin to a filibuster. By not allowing a quorum, Senate Democrats are effectively filibustering the process; a tradition that Republicans have used to excess in the past. Calling himself the Grim Reaper, Mitch McConnell has been abusing his power as Majority Leader to eliminate anything outside of his specific agenda for years. Senate Democrats are finally wising up to the fact that they need to take a page from McConnell's playbook in order to achieve their goals. Further, if Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are unwilling to listen to a large portion of America's elected leaders, then Democrats can and should use any available method at their disposal. Our democracy allows for such maneuvers, and when all hope of bipartisan agreements have broken down, it is wholly appropriate to use them.
According to the US Constitution, President Trump has the right and obligation to fill the empty supreme court seat. It really is that simple. The Constitution's text makes no mention of limiting that right and responsibility according to how close an election date is. Therefore, the basic premise of the Democrat's stated objections to President Trump replacing the deceased Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg is constitutionally incorrect, as are their stated reasons for boycotting Judge Barrett's confirmation vote.
This open refusal of Senate Democrats to acknowledge and accept the US Constitution's authority on this matter is disturbing, particularly considering that each has sworn an oath to support and defend it. That oath does not come with a clause providing an exception for cases in which a president they do not like or support is directly justified in his actions by the very Constitution they've sworn to defend. They may not like what the US Constitution says regarding President Trump's right to replace the deceased judge, but they are obligated to accept it.
As former President Obama said so succinctly, elections have consequences. And one of the consequences of the 2016 presidential election is that at the time of Justice Ginsburg's death, Donald Trump held the office of president. The Senate Democrats' refusal to gracefully accept the rightful consequences of the election and the authority of the Constitution regarding filling the empty SCOTUS seat dishonors our American tradition of a peaceful transfer of power. Their willingness to ignore the US Constitution to suit their own agenda does not inspire confidence in US leadership.