Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed by the Senate in a 52-48 vote and sworn in as the latest justice on the Supreme Court Oct. 26.
President Donald J. Trump nominated Barrett Sept. 26 to fill the seat vacated by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18 from complications from pancreatic cancer.
Supporters of Barrett said she was qualified to fill the position because of her years of experience teaching law, practicing as a litigator and serving as a judge. She has also served on the Seventh Circuit court of appeals since 2017. At that time, she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support.
Because Ginsburg was a vocal and progressive justice, the push to fill her slot with Barrett, a conservative, triggered debate in the U.S. Senate.
One concern Democrats in the Senate had about Barrett was her stance on Roe v. Wade, the case that upheld the constitutionality of abortion. Barrett had expressed her personal disapproval of abortion in the past but said she would not allow personal biases to dictate her decisions.
Miranda Mattson, senior graphic design major, said she is fond of Barrett but skeptical of her ability to be a completely neutral justice.
“Though she says she will put personal bias aside, I think it’s hard for someone to completely remove themselves from a case,” Mattson said. “Especially when it’s something they deeply care about.”
There were multiple attempts to delay Barrett’s confirmation until after the presidential election on Nov. 3. One of the arguments Senate Democrats made in hopes of delaying the approval process was its proximity to another election, saying a new justice should not be approved until after the next president is chosen. This was the case made by Republicans in 2016 after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
However, Senate Republicans countered that people have already decided by electing Trump in 2016 because the president serves for four years. They assert that although they are in the middle of an election cycle, he is the current president and it is still within his power nominate a justice.
Steven Urrea, senior biology major, said he sees no issue with Trump’s nomination of Barrett.
“The president is elected for four years, not three and a half,” Urrea said. “He still has the power to appoint a justice.”
Dr. Chase Porter, a political Science professor at CBU, said that Trump is within his rights to nominate a justice.
“Trump was fully within his rights to offer a nominee at this point in the race,” Porter said. “The Senate was fully within its rights to confirm said nominee.”
However, Porter said he understands the controversy, and how it appears hypocritical that Senate Republicans have pushed for Barrett’s nomination, but when President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill Scalia’s seat in 2016, they prevented it.
In this case, the Senate and president are of the same political party. In the case of Obama, he faced a Republican-controlled Senate.
Because there is no law that mandates there has to be nine justices on the court, some Republicans are concerned over the possibility of Democrats looking to raise the number of judges on the Supreme Court to balance conservative and liberal viewpoints, despite the idea of the court being a neutral arbiter.
Barrett began serving on the Supreme Court on Oct. 27.