Back in Theaters: “The Congressional Partisan Show”
First, it would be faulty of me not to address the nominee who has renewed public vigor in one of our most enriching facets of American history: Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett was born in New Orleans and graduated from Notre Dame Law School, first in her class. She was nominated by President Trump to serve in the U.S. court of appeals of the Seventh Circuit and went on to serve on the federal bench before being nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now, some may tackle her with detestation, whether founded or unfounded, of whose table - politically, that is - she sits at, with smears being thrown at her concerning the timing and optics of her rise; this, of course, is due to the untimely death of the honorable former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Brasher, however, were the attacks regarding her faith as well as the quarrels between Democratic and Republican party leaders regarding the practicality and ethicality of this whole rushed process.
However, while a contention can be made that Republicans right now are taking unfair advantage of this vacancy with an urgency akin to that of a soldier on the battlefield, it’s important to note that Obama was guilty of the same temptation, nominating Merrick Garland 5 days after the honorable Antione Scalia’s death on March 11, 2016. There is an extra level of irony to this considering that 2016 was also an election year.
This whole situation sheds light on a recurring cycle in modern American politics: the emotional partisanship of either party and its instigating in things like culture and non-political flashpoint news, where politics shouldn’t bear any influence, then either party’s corrupting of the clarity an average citizen could gain on such news, and finally the desire to change precedent in terms of public/governmental reaction and response towards [said] news to make things more politically expedient for themselves and their constituents.
Another example of this other than Merrick Garland would be the botched confirmation of former solicitor general of the United States Robert Bork, who was nominated for the Supreme Court in 1987, courtesy of Ronald Reagan. As the Wall Street Journal puts it, “No less than Joe Biden had previously said he might have to vote to confirm him”. However, a flurry of attacks came from determined Democratic leaders such as Ted Kennedy, waiting for their shot to undermine Bork’s jurisprudence. This plan worked, with Republicans left astonished and fuming over the Democratic gameplan.
This cycle within the judicial realm would continue for the next 3 decades until 2017 when Donald Trump would go on to become our 45th president, regarded by many now as a politically peculiar one. This time, it was the republican party that would benefit from a decision by the Democratic party to rewrite Senate rules in mid-Congress, on a party-line vote, to add three seats to the D.C. Circuit (Wall Street Journal). The hope that this would help them stack judicial courts in the future was short-lived. A vote to nominate Barrett could now proceed, with only 51 votes needed to break the filibuster (end debate regarding her nomination). The Democrats shot themselves in the foot with this as well, as they lowered the required amount of votes needed to break the filibuster from 60 to 51. And with 53 republicans in the Senate, the confirmation process now looks bleak for senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and his crew. It'll take some conjuring of a storm Amy coney Barrett can’t abate to convince a few Republicans to buck a firm political trend of heightened polarization.
As an aware critic yet fascinated admirer of this partisan drug-like cycle which repeats itself time and again, I still remain optimistic, albeit unfortunately, that the outrage from the left will wash over once the hearings and potentially a confirmation is over. This year’s controversy surrounding Amy Coney Barrett will end. But history has shown us that something will arise in the future that fuels another display of partisanship from congress which captures the attention of the entire nation once more. Now, what will it be and who will be on the offensive? That is a question rich in possibility yet murky, at best, in clarity.