The Republican majority in the US Senate is expected to confirm, on the night of Monday October 26 to Tuesday October 27, the installation at the Supreme Court of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, 48, just one month after her appointment by Donald Trump, replacing the progressive Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Never before has a judge at the Court been propelled so quickly.
There was an emergency for the Republicans in a hurry to install a judge “of their own” – the third under Trump after Neil Gorsuch (2017) and Brett Kavanaugh (in 2018) – upstream of November 3 elections. The Court is now firmly anchored on the right, with six conservative magistrates out of nine.
Badly in the polls, Trump and the Republicans can brandish a “trophy” and hope for a surge in mobilization of the religious electorate, who will recognize himself in Judge Barrett: since his student years at Notre-Dame University, in Indiana, she belongs to the People of Praise, a group of conservative Catholics and Protestant evangelicals.
Hot topics await her
Judge Barrett will sit on November 2, and she may have to decide on electoral disputes, or even the presidential one, as the Republican Party multiplies the appeals against the postal vote. Twenty years ago, George Bush owed his election to the Supreme Court, which suspended the recount of the ballots in Florida. The Court will also rule in November on Obamacare, the health insurance introduced under Obama in 2010, which Trump wants to destroy and which the judge denigrated in past writings.
On November 4, Barrett and his peers will consider a lawsuit, in the name of freedom of conscience, against the city of Philadelphia that requires adoption agencies to treat same-sex couples on an equal basis.
We touch here on the deep agenda of the religious right since 1980. More interested in the sacred (the defense of their values) than in the layman (governance from day to day), the Reverend Jerry Falwell, his followers and their successors have made the Supreme Court their priority, it settling the major divisive issues: abortion, same-sex marriage, firearms…?
The pact made with Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party – the votes of their flock in exchange for the appointment of conservative judges – still stands. Very conservative pharmacies, such as the Federalist Society, have almost dictated Trump’s choices: young judges (Gorsuch is 53, Kavanaugh 55), guardians of values for decades. Unless, of course, that Joe Biden and the Democrats win the White House and a double majority in the Senate and the House: they could then reform the Court and rebalance it.