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What can Trump give you that Amy Coney Barrett can’t?

| Thursday, October 29, 2020

On Monday night, the United States Senate proved just how fast the legislative body in America can move when they have enough political motivation to do so, as it confirmed judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. One might catch themselves wondering where such expediency could be found when delivering a coronavirus relief package or assistance to the devastating wildfires in California, but such a quandary would only lead to a headache the size of Mount Rushmore. With the Senate adjourned, University President Fr. John Jenkins sent out a congratulatory note to Barrett, and the Notre Dame Victory March was played on the White House lawn. As the final notes of our fight song rang out, a sense of peace settled in the air. The fight was over. The battle over the Supreme Court had been won. 

The true irony of this moment is that Republican leaders across the country are ringing alarm bells claiming that Democrats might try to pack the court if they gain control of the legislature. To be clear, with the confirmation of Barrett, the Supreme Court has now been successfully packed by … checks notes … the Republicans. That’s like a bank robber calling the police on their way out the door with duffle bags of money in their hands because they’re worried someone might try to rob the bank. It makes no sense. President Donald Trump, with his majority in the Senate, put three conservative judges on the court. All three of these judges were appointed by a president who lost the popular vote by almost three million votes, and then confirmed by Republican senators who represent 15 million fewer Americans than their Democratic counterparts. This last-ditch power grab is just the most recent action of a dying GOP. If you feel the need to rush through a confirmation of a conservative justice eight days before an election because you are so afraid that your party is going to be wiped out by democracy, then something has clearly gone wrong. But, credit where credit is due, the Republicans orchestrated this masterfully and stacked the Supreme Court to their liking.

Conservatives now control six seats compared to the liberals’ three, and with it, they now control the destiny of some of their most prized issues. You want to rip healthcare away from 22 million Americans by getting rid of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? No problem, send it to the courts. You want to federalize a state’s right to control a woman’s body and the dignity of her reproductive choices? Too easy; send it to the courts. You want to revoke the rights and the pursuit of happiness from the LGTBQ+ community? Done; send it to the courts. Yeah, sure those pesky liberals will keep trying to defend the health, dignity and freedom of those who have become disenfranchised by Republican lawmakers, but who cares? You have the courts, and the law is the law. The fight is over. You won.

So let me now ask you this: What can Donald Trump give you that you don’t already have? According to a 2012 Gallup Poll, roughly one in six Americans are single-issue voters when it comes to abortion. Fine. While I disagree with the philosophy of being a single-issue voter, I sincerely respect your devotion to an issue (although I do not respect your crusade to control women’s bodies and reproductive rights). That being said, the Executive Branch has absolutely no control over abortion policies — that power falls to the courts. But good news! You now have the Supreme Court. So, let me repeat my original question: What can Donald Trump give you that you don’t already have? 

Maybe you care deeply about healthcare and feel that the entire system should be private and that the Affordable Care Act must be abolished. While I wholeheartedly disagree with you, you now hold the upper hand in this contest. Donald Trump and a Republican legislature proved incapable of repealing the ACA because its constitutionality continued to be held up by the courts by razor-thin margins. The numbers on that court have now shifted, and finally, you can repeal the law. I pray that congress moves swiftly and the President signs a new bill to replace the ACA, but hey, even if they don’t, at least you got rid of one more thing that had Barack Obama’s name on it, right? So, right now, the fate of healthcare is now up to the Supreme Court, which conservatives control, so tell me what exactly can Donald Trump give you that you don’t already have?

Perhaps you are a staunch believer that members of the LGBTQ+ community should not have the same rights or pursuit of happiness under the law as straight people. You might continue to believe that marriage can only be between one man and one woman, even though Pope Francis has now said that there should be civil unions between same-sex couples. On top of that, you might think the whole separation of church and state thing is overrated anyway, so you want to disallow people to get married unless they are heterosexuals. To this belief, I personally have no words to describe my visceral disagreement, but again, you find yourself in the driver’s seat of the issue. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, emboldened by the new makeup of the court, came out of the woodwork to announce the hopes of overturning the 2015 decision Obergefell v. Hodges which, under the 14th amendment, gave same-sex couples the right to marry. Again, the Executive has no control over this issue; it falls to the Supreme Court. You already know the question I’m about to ask you, but I’m going to do it again anyway: What can Donald Trump give you that you do not already have?

Clark Bowden is a senior political science major. When he’s not sleeping through his alarm or reminding people that he studied abroad, he can be found in heated political debates or watching the Washington Nationals play baseball. He can be reached at [email protected] or @BowdenClark on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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