Following the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, conservative federal appeals court judge Amy Coney Barrett was nominated by President Donald Trump Saturday to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, his third appointment following Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.
"Over the past week, our nation has mourned the loss of a true American legend," Trump said. "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a legal giant and a pioneer for women. Her extraordinary life and legacy will inspire Americans for generations to come. Now, we gather in the Rose Garden to continue our never-ending task of ensuring equal justice and preserving the impartial rule of law."
Barrett was No. 1 in her class at Notre Dame Law School in 1997 and rose quickly through the ranks of the judiciary. There is no question as to her qualifications; however, the timeline of her appointment contradicts an all-too-familiar situation at this juncture in the last presidential election cycle.
Following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, President Barrack Obama appointed D.C. circuit court of appeals judge Merrick Garland to the vacant seat. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declared hours after the news of Scalia's passing that the proximity to the 2016 presidential election rendered the appointment null and void.
McConnell, however, has fervently expressed support of President Trump's nomination.
“President Trump could not have made a better decision," McConnell said Sunday. "Judge Amy Coney Barrett is an exceptionally impressive jurist and an exceedingly well-qualified nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Virginia's state and U.S. senators' responses have especially highlighted the partisanship of the Coney Barrett nomination.
“I've said from the beginning that Senator McConnell should follow his own precedent from 2016 – this vacancy should be filled by the winner of the ongoing election," Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said Saturday evening. "I intend to follow that precedent and will not support anyone’s confirmation until we know the election results. There are less than 40 days between now and Election Day, and voting is already underway in Virginia and other states. Given the stakes – health care, fundamental rights, the integrity of the Court – rushing a confirmation vote before the American people have weighed in would be reckless.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) echoed Kaine's call on Sen. McConnell to uphold his previous stance on judicial appointments in the months immediately preceding a presidential election.
Warner released the following statement:
"There is so much on the line with this Supreme Court vacancy. The next justice has the opportunity to decide the future of the Affordable Care Act, and whether Americans with preexisting conditions will continue to be protected, or if millions of Americans covered by the ACA will have their health care ripped away in the middle of a pandemic.
Everything from health care to reproductive rights to voting rights hangs in the balance. Given the stakes, the American people have a right to have their voices heard before the confirmation of a new justice.
This is not a question of judicial qualifications or temperament – this is about following the standard established by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2016, when he refused – over my own strong objections – to consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee ten months prior to the election. That’s now the precedent.
We can’t have one set of rules for Democratic presidents, and a different set of rules for Republican presidents. Our system of checks and balances, which has held strong and lasting for more than 200 years, was simply not meant to bear the brunt of such cynicism and hypocrisy."
Local republican politicians, as well as dozens of Senate republicans and executive cabinet members have expressed their support of the Coney Barrett nomination, expressing no qualms with the chronology of the appointment.
"I think she'll make a great Supreme Court justice," Virginia Sen. Frank Ruff (R-15) told the Star-Tribune Monday morning. "She was confirmed for the lower court, and in that process, nobody had any real problem with her. She is a strict constitutionalist, which – I think most people believe the constitution should be adhered to."
Bob Good, Republican nominee for Virginia's 5th Congressional District, also expressed his vehement support of not only the new justice but the timeline of her appointment and confirmation.
"I would like to commend President Trump for being ready to quickly appoint such an outstanding new Supreme Court justice," Good said Saturday. "She is highly qualified with an outstanding judicial record and will undoubtedly and consistently apply the Constitution on all decisions before the Court."
"I now call on the Senate to judiciously and expeditiously approve this outstanding nominee to fulfill their constitutional responsibility and ensure we have the full complement of justices as soon as possible," Good continued.