Who Decides the Empty Seat?

Written By: Maeve Ballantine

America lost an important figure in the American Supreme Court on Sept. 18, 2020. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, long-time Justice, unfortunately, passed away from complications of pancreatic cancer at the age of 87. This begs the question: who is going to fill her seat? And, equally important question: who gets to decide this?

According to the third Article of the Constitution, the president must nominate someone to sit on the Supreme Court and this nomination must be confirmed and accepted by the Senate. This is par for the course, but with the current heated political climate , one must wonder if the president will consider the decision carefully. In other words, will President Trump decide what is best for the country as a whole, or just for the Republican Party?

Ginsberg’s dying wish was for her replacement not to be named until after the election in November. However, it seems that the Trump administration is taking steps to replace her as quickly as possible. This is not only insulting to Ginsberg, but it is also a very bad idea. Political decisions take time, discussion and consideration from every angle. Rushing a decision as important as this one could have negative effects on the rest of the country. If Trump, McConnell, and othes urging to replace Ginsberg as soon as possible, rush the decision, choosing someone who aligns with their values and does not hold the people of the country as a priority, then it could be harmful to the country at large. This decision is also quite nearsighted, focusing only on what will benefit the Republican party in the near future, or over the next four years  if Trump is reelected for a second term. Even if one disregards all of the previous problems this brings, it also highlights the callousness our president has about letting the people’s voice be heard over pursuing his own interests. If the country elects Joe Biden as the next president, then Trump will be unable to put one of his people up for nomination, furthering his expanse of power.

But perhaps the largest issue that arises from this question is the hypocrisy that surrounds it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went on the record saying, “President Trump’s nominee for this vacancy will receive a vote on the floor of the Senate,” whereas in 2016, when the country was facing a similar situation, McConnell himself claimed that it wouldn’t be right to push for a new nomination during an election year. So not only are the people in support of rushing this decision irresponsibly disregarding the people’s right to have some kind of say in what kind of government they have, insulting Ruth Bader Ginsberg by not honoring her last wish, and playing fast and loose with the future of this country, but they are also hypocrites. They are doing the very thing they set out to oppose just four years ago. 

As individual events, perhaps what is happening could be tolerable, but are we really willing to let what is happening continue? Look at what has happened so far and ask yourself: is this what you want the future of your country to look like?

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