The Supreme Court, losing sight of its ideals?


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Do you know how a Supreme Court Justice is appointed? Or why the Supreme Court and its Justices are important? In the last several years, there have been two new appointments to the Supreme court, but it seems the traditional role of the Court is rapidly changing. Looking at the Court today, there are a couple of things that we as a society and our government have lost sight of in today’s wildly partisan climate.

Supreme Court Justices serve life terms and are appointed by the President. Then they receive a hearing from the Senate, and after the hearing, they are voted on to the Court by the members of the Senate. The Supreme Court is one of our nation’s greatest protections of democracy. Cases heard by the Court represent questions pertaining to the constitution. Judgment on cases is not meant to represent a distinctly Republican or Democratic idea. The Justices that serve on the Court are supposed to rule based on what they think our constitution does and does not allow. It has been said that sometimes the only difference between democracy and tyranny is the Supreme Court. But as time goes on, we are all losing sight of what the purpose of the Court is. It has become just another political prize to be won by one party or another.

After the death of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, his seat on the Supreme Court was vacant for more than a year. To fill Justice Scalia’s seat, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland. Unfortunately, the Republican Congress prevented Garland from ever getting a hearing because the 2016 presidential election was so close. When Donald Trump unexpectedly won, he was given the opportunity to nominate and confirm a judge instead. In April of 2017, Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate 54-45 yes to no. But something about Justice Gorsuch’s confirmation was unique. Before Gorsuch, the Senate needed to confirm a judge by 60 votes, not a simple majority. However, after receiving so much pushback from Democrats in the Senate, the Republican majority decided to change the rules to confirm Gorsuch. This became known as the “nuclear option.” Instead of needing a somewhat bipartisan vote to confirm a judge with a 60-40 vote, now a simple majority can do the job. We are reminded of this now with the confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

What if the United States made an amendment to the constitution? Rewrite the constitution, and change the way we choose Justices. Instead of the President appointing them, create a board composed equally of Republican and Democrat senators and congressmen and women to choose a Justice they believe will uphold the values of the constitution, not the agenda of a particular party.

However, despite all this pessimism surrounding the appointment of Court Judges today, our country should still be grateful for the Court’s existence. A Justice serves a life term and theoretically once appointed could not be swayed by typical political factors like re-election or public approval. The Court has taken on a massive role in preserving democracy in our country, and the hope is that no matter who sits on the court they are there to defend and uphold the constitution.

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