The Future of the Supreme Court

Dear Rich Lifer,

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the trailblazing Supreme Court Justice, passed away last Friday, September 18, due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer.

Ginsburg was only the second woman, and first Jewish woman, to ever be nominated to the Supreme Court and was a lifetime champion for women’s rights and an unflinching advocate for gender equality.

Before she was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993, Ginsburg graduated at the top of her class at Columbia Law, clerked for District Judge Edmund Palmieri in Manhattan, taught law at Rutgers University, founded the Women’s Rights Project and served in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Throughout her whole career, she shattered the status quo, dedicating her legal career to challenging laws and regulations that discriminated on the basis of sex.

The admiration for Ginsburg reached across partisan lines with politicians of both parties expressing their deepest sympathies.

Former President George W. Bush issued a statement saying, “Justice Ginsburg loved our country and the law. Laura and I are fortunate to have known this smart and humorous trailblazer, and we send our condolences to the Ginsburg family.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden stated, “She never failed. She was fierce and unflinching in her pursuit of the civil and legal rights… of everyone.”

And President Trump told reporters, “Whether you agreed or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life.”

So while it is agreed, across the board, that Ginsburg was an incredible person who made crucial changes to the fabric of our society, there is certainly no agreement on how to fill the gaping hole she left in the Supreme Court.

In Ginsburg’s final days, she dictated one last hope: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

But will her wish be granted? It looks unlikely… read on.

Republicans Move to Nominate

Hours after Ginsburg’s death Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear he had no intention of waiting until the election to vote on a new Supreme Court nominee stating, “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

He’s getting some backlash for these comments because in 2016, McConnell refused to bring the Senate to a vote on Obama’s then-nominee, Merrick Garland.

At the time, McConnell was quoted saying, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

However, he is now declining to uphold this precedent and is instead rolling full steam ahead to have the Senate vote on Trump’s nominee before the upcoming election.

Trump has said he could announce his nominee as early as this coming Thursday or Friday.

Another appointment by Trump would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the court.

Who Are The Nominees?

Trump has formally announced he will nominate a woman to fill Ginsburg’s empty seat. He has narrowed down his previous list of 20 potential nominees to a few key women.

One top contender is Judge Amy Coney Barrett who was previously nominated by Trump to the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in May 2017.

Judge Barrett clerked from 1998 to 1999 for Justice Antonin Scalia, then practiced law in Washington, D.C. before returning in 2002 to Notre Dame as a professor of constitutional law and federal courts.

Her Roman-Catholic faith previously caused Democrats to question if her beliefs would influence her decisions. However, Barrett has stated that judges should not put their personal views above the law.

Since taking the bench as an appeals-court judge, Judge Barrett has written opinions on issues including sentencing for drug-overdose death convictions, the right to criminal counsel and federal jurisdiction over arbitration proceedings.

Another top contender is Trump appointee Judge Barbara Lagoa who has served on the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since December.
A Cuban-American and Miami native, Judge Lagoa was the first Hispanic woman to serve on the Florida Supreme Court. If appointed, she would be the second justice of Latino descent and her ties to Florida, a key swing state, could help Trump in the contentious state.

Judge Allison Rushing is also up for consideration and currently sits on the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — Trump nominated her to the court in August 2018.

She was the youngest federal judge in the nation at the time of her confirmation but received backlash from civil-rights organizers who criticized her past clerking for conservative judges (Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Gorsuch and U.S. Circuit Judge David Sentelle) and her internship for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian nonprofit.

Will a Vote Happen?

Although McConnell, Trump, and many other Republicans have expressed the desire to quickly nominate and vote on a new Justice, there is no solid guarantee that a confirmation will happen before the election on November 3.

On Sunday, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined Susan Collins of Maine in saying she is opposed to confirming a Trump nominee before Election Day.

If all Democratic Senators oppose Trump’s pick, only four Republican Senators will be needed to overrule the choice. With two already openly stating they will not confirm a nominee, that only leaves two more senators to result in a delayed confirmation.

However, the bar for blocking a Trump nominee remains high as Republicans have a 53-member majority, and Vice President Mike Pence could break any tie.

It is important to note that besides objections based on principle, timing constraints also pose a threat getting a nominee appointment before the election.

According to the Congressional Research Service, for Supreme Court nominees since 1975, the median amount of time from nomination until a floor vote was 69 days.

Right now there are only 43 days until the election.

This story is changing daily and we will all be anxiously awaiting Trump’s announcement with his pick.

Stay tuned…

To A Richer Life,

The Rich Life Roadmap Team

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