There's plenty of time to pick a Supreme Court Justice

A total of 14 U.S. presidents have appointed 21 Supreme Court justices during election years, it has been reported.

A half dozen presidents filled Supreme Court seats even though their successors had been elected.

So it’s not unusual at all for President Donald Trump to be preparing to nominate a new Supreme Court Justice to take the place of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died recently, even though it is just a little over  a month before the presidential election.

Republicans are gearing up to vote a successor for Justice Ginsburg and Democrats are complaining. Democrats say it is too close to a presidential election for the current president to be nominating a new Supreme Court Justice. The Democrats would be doing the exact same thing, if they could.

It is President Trump’s responsibility to make a pick. He is the president and the time is now to nominate a new Supreme Court Justice.

Trump has said that he will select a woman to replace Ginsburg, who was the second woman to ever join the court. And just because Trump gets to nominate a new Supreme Court Justice, does not mean the pick is automatically approved. Quite the contrary.

Whoever is nominated by Trump will have to go through a Senate process, including public hearings. Then there’s a committee vote. And then there’s a Senate floor vote.

The last Supreme Court nomination to succeed with a less-than-two-month confirmation process was Ginsburg herself back in 1993.

Republicans ended the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, so it takes only a simple majority vote to confirm a president’s nomination to the highest court in the land. Vice President Mike Pence can break a 50-50 tie.

A new Congress takes office Jan. 3, 2021, so the current Senate, with the current Republican majority, has only until then to confirm a Trump nominee.

Trump, however, remains in office to serve out his first four-year term of office until Jan. 20, 2021 at noon, so if he wins, a new Republican majority - if one exists then after Jan. 3 - could also vote before Inauguration Day.

Anytime between now and Jan. 3, 2021, the current Senate Republicans can still go ahead and confirm a conservative nominee selected by Trump. That would sew up a very conservative majority on the Supreme Court for a generation or more.

There are several major cases on the U.S. Supreme Court docket already. Here are two ways in which a conservative majority could likely have an almost immediate impact:

1. The Affordable Care Act -- Obamacare, which dramatically expanded Americans’ access to health insurance coverage, has narrowly withstood several court challenges. It’s currently facing another one. The law has survived only because a conservative justice, Chief Justice John Roberts, has sided with liberal judges.

But the Trump administration has gotten behind a coalition of several states currently challenging it. Arguments are scheduled for shortly after the election. A conservative majority could overturn the law.

2. Abortion -- In 2016, when Republican senators prevented President Barack Obama from naming Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, and giving Trump a seat to fill as soon as he took office, it changed the balance of the court in a way that will threaten the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the U.S.

If a conservative Justice replaces Ginsburg, it will take two Republican-appointed swing votes to protect the Roe decision. Otherwise, there’s a good chance abortion laws could be changed - if not outlawed - in many U.S. states.

Democrats will continue to complain that “it is just a power play’’ for Trump to nominate a new Justice now but to no avail.

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, speaking on television the other day said that Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the senate majority leader, would be “playing with fire’’ if he attempted to get Trump’s Supreme Court Justice pick approved by election day, Nov. 3.

With rhetoric like that, it’s no wonder that rioting, looting and burning buildings continue in some of our big cities that are governed by Democrat mayors. There is no place for these types of veiled threats in a republic like ours and it is time for these types of threats of violence to stop. 

Trump knows that nominating Supreme Court Justices is one of the most important jobs that a president is charged with. He’ll make his nomination and the process will move forward just like it has done all the other times it has happened. 

The Holton Recorder

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