Amy Coney Barrett’s likely confirmation is a ‘travesty of democracy’ — but Democrats have ways to fight back
With almost all Senate Republicans — including Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah — determined to vote in favor of Judge Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation, it is all but certain that President Donald Trump's far-right nominee will be on the U.S. Supreme Court before Election Day. Economist and liberal blogger Robert Reich discusses Barrett's nomination in an October 25 op-ed for The Guardian, slamming it as an abomination but stressing that Democrats have ways to fight back.
"Barring a miracle, Amy Coney Barrett will be confirmed on Monday as the ninth justice on the U.S. Supreme Court," laments Reich, who served as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton during the 1990s. "This is a travesty of democracy."
Reich points out that in 2016 — after Justice Antonin Scalia died and President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland — Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to even consider Obama's nominee.
"The vote on Barrett's confirmation will occur just eight days before Election Day," Reich explains. "By contrast, the Senate didn't even hold a hearing on Merrick Garland, who Barack Obama nominated almost a year before the end of his term. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued, at the time, that any vote should wait 'until we have a new president.' Barrett was nominated by a president who lost the popular vote by nearly 3m ballots, and who was impeached by the House of Representatives."
Reich notes that Barrett's Republican supporters in the U.S. Senate "represent 15 million fewer Americans than their Democratic colleagues" and describes Barrett's likely confirmation as "the culmination of years in which a shrinking and increasingly conservative, rural and White segment of the U.S. population has been imposing its will on the rest of America."
Reich, however, goes on to describe some ways in which Democrats can resist the far-right takeover of the U.S. Supreme Court — first and foremost, by increasing the number of justices if Trump is voted out of office and Democrats achieve a majority in the U.S. Senate.
Reich explains, "In the event Joe Biden becomes president on 20 January and both houses of Congress come under control of the Democrats, they can reverse this trend…. The Constitution says nothing about the number of justices. The Court changed size seven times in its first 80 years, from as few as five justices under John Adams to 10 under Abraham Lincoln. Biden says, if elected, he'll create a bipartisan commission to study a possible Court overhaul 'because it's getting out of whack.' That's fine, but he'll need to move quickly. The window of opportunity could close by the 2022 midterm elections."
Reich's other recommendations include "abolish the Senate filibuster" and "rebalance the Senate itself."
"At the least," Reich argues, "statehood should be granted to Washington D.C. And given that one out of eight Americans now lives in California — whose economy, if it were a separate country, would be the ninth-largest in the world — why not split it into a North and South California? The Constitution is also silent on the number of states."
Reich concludes his op-ed by emphasizing that the United States' federal judiciary should not be dominated by an increasingly extreme minority.
"Barrett's ascent is the latest illustration of how grotesque the power imbalance has become, and how it continues to entrench itself ever more deeply," Reich warns. "If not reversed soon, it will be impossible to remedy."
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