Even before President Trump announced that Judge Amy Coney Barrett would be his latest Supreme Court nominee, the attacks had begun. Indeed, many on the left were threatening riots, impeachment, and “packing” the court if the Senate confirmed his pick instead of waiting until January to give a possible President Biden the chance to fill the vacant seat. In other words, the democratic process has been attacked in a dangerously undemocratic way.
Yet every American who cares about their own freedom and the freedom of their children and grandchildren should be applauding the nomination of Barrett. That’s because rather than just being a Republican or Democrat, she is an originalist, and originalist justices are one of the great safeguards of our rights as Americans.
The Constitution was created in large part to protect our most fundamental rights from an overzealous, all-powerful government. Originalists respect those constitutional limits rather than rewriting them to give the government even greater power over our lives. Those on the left eschew originalism and instead believe in a “living” Constitution, one where the words can be “reinterpreted” and meanings can be changed merely by the wants and the whims of a judge or justice to meet some political or social goal.
Despite the fact that Trump joins many other American presidents in making an election year nomination, Democrats already have suggested the unconscionable move of attempting to impeach the president once again, pulling from their tired playbook of obstruction to prevent the Senate from holding confirmation hearings for Barrett.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez hinted to reporters that the House of Representatives has “procedures” available to stop the confirmation in the Senate. She said that “all of these options should be entertained and on the table.” When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked whether she would consider impeaching the president a second time, she answered, “We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss.”
Still others on the left are threatening riots if the confirmation process is started. We pray these are hollow threats and that communities, businesses, and law enforcement officers remain safe. The threats and personal attacks against Barrett and against those who support her nomination must stop. They are anathemas to our system of democracy. We must expect more from our citizens and our elected leaders.
Some in our society must learn that we can disagree without destroying and that we can debate without hate. Further, senators must have a backbone. They must not give in to these threats, or else they risk turning over a constitutional process to tyranny. In fact, the decision to confirm a justice should be based on precedent and a nominee’s experience and suitability to sit on the Supreme Court.
Barrett is an outstanding choice for the court. She is a brilliant legal mind with sterling credentials. She clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, served in private practice, worked as a law school professor at Notre Dame, and serves as a federal judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. When she was nominated by Trump in 2017 for that role, she was confirmed by a bipartisan Senate majority.
Speaking at the White House, she confirmed her originalist understanding of the role of the judiciary: “A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.” Americans who value freedom and constitutionally limited government, who believe in our country’s founding principles and who want justices to uphold the rule of law, should be well pleased with Barrett’s nomination. Yet there is a tough road ahead for Barrett and for the senators who support her. While some senators are working to scuttle the confirmation, others are being threatened into withholding their vote. Both groups of senators need to know where Americans faithful to the Constitution stand. The American people elected Trump to a four-year term in 2016 and they elected a Senate Republican majority in 2014, 2016, and 2018 in large part because of their promise to work together to confirm constitutionalist judges.
The Senate now has the opportunity to confirm one to the Supreme Court, one who will make decisions based on the law, not politics. It is time for the Senate to seize this relatively rare moment, because this opportunity, one that benefits the freedom of all Americans, might be a long time coming again.
This piece originally appeared in the Hill on 10/8/20