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The Outsized Effects of Minority Rule

By: Susanna Conway

President Donald Trump stands beside Judge Amy Coney Barrett as she gives a speech

Photo by: The White House

If the Senate moves forward with confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, the long-term consequences could be disastrous for a country built on principles of fairness and equity. Throughout his four years in office, President Donald Trump has successfully appointed two Supreme Court Justices, and following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has now been given the chance to appoint a third. His recent nomination of Amy Coney Barrett has raised many questions regarding the fairness of the nomination process, and whether or not the Court should wait until after the upcoming election to appoint a new justice. 

So what will it mean for the American people if Amy Coney Barrett gets appointed to the Supreme Court? Just like the Senate, the courts’ 6-3 Republican majority is likely to implement policies that inaccurately represent the views of the American population. For example, Judge Barrett, along with many other Republican members of the Supreme Court, has openly spoken out against the legality of abortion. Her appointment could make it possible for the court to overturn the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, which would restrict a woman’s right to chose abortion. Although recent polls have shown that a majority of Americans support the legalization of abortion, a Republican-controlled court could easily strike down state laws and give the government even greater control over women’s bodies. In addition, the rights of LGBTQ individuals could be at risk under this court, for many of its members have supported Trump’s homophobic and transphobic policies, including the banning of transgender individuals from the military. 

Because of the unfair process by which a Supreme Court justice is appointed, it is likely that Justice Barrett will be granted a smooth entry into the federal government. Unlike the House of Representatives, the Senate, which is responsible for the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominees, is made up of two senators from each of the 50 states. This means that states with smaller populations receive equal representation to those with larger populations, which can lead to decisions that display an inaccurate representation of the views of the American population. Although Democrats make up a larger portion of United States citizens, there are a greater number of states that possess a Republican majority, allowing a greater number of Senate seats to be filled by Republicans. Because of this Republican-favoring structure, the Senate has been able to stage Supreme Court confirmation hearings in their favor. In addition, the Electoral College, which is the very reason that President Trump got elected in the first place, tends to favor the Republican party as well. In the 2016 election, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton received over 3 million more votes than Mr. Trump, but because the electoral college is designed to give smaller states a larger representation, Donald Trump was able to claim the Presidential victory. 

Amy Coney Barret’s nomination would not only put the rights of Americans at risk but also completely contradict the actions of Senate Republicans four years ago. In January of 2016, the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia prompted former President Obama former President Barack Obama to nominate Merrick Garland, a respectable lawyer, and judge, to serve as Scalia’s replacement. Because of their unfair Republican majority, the Senate was able to turn down Garland’s nomination, with the stated reasoning of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell being that the nomination took place too close to a Presidential election. This was nine months before the 2016 election, and although Barrett’s nomination is just one month short of the 2020 election, McConnell and other Senate Republicans appear to have no problem showing their full support for this controversial appointment. 

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