I respect the processes of our government. Do they always seem justifiable? No. However, I believe that they are put in place for a reason; our Founding Fathers created checks and balances and the separation of powers in an attempt to achieve ethical governance and — hear me out — semblances of nonpartisanship. The polarization we experience today is not their fault, but rather an evolution of these systems over centuries.
Within the three branches, I am inclined to believe that the United States’ judiciary is the most representative of the modern political climate. The U.S. Supreme Court, featuring nine justices, has the responsibility to interpret and enforce the Constitution as it deems fit in current divisive cases. In theory, its duty is first and foremost to the American people, not to greedy lobbyists and quid pro quo Congress dynamics. For this reason, the effects of Supreme Court decisions can indirectly facilitate neutralization within this nation.
In understanding these fundamentals of the government, I was shocked when our president nominated Federal Appellate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Barrett, a proven conservative, seems to check all the boxes in terms of merit. Yet, if her nomination is confirmed, she will be directly responsible for an imbalance in the court.
Previously, conservatives held a 5-4 advantage on the court. However, Chief Justice John Roberts has shown a willingness to rule against his “official” ideology in major decisions such as King v. Burwell and Obergefell v. Hodges. Therefore, many people remained faithful that he could uphold the objectivity of the Constitution. However, with Barrett’s expected acceptance, the ratio is switched to a 6-3 conservative advantage, making it far more likely that the majority will rule in favor of a singular ideology.
As your average voting American, I am appalled by the lack of respect for the Supreme Court. While Barrett may be a worthy candidate, this is not the appropriate time for her to receive a seat at the table. In a more just world, it would be presented to a person such as Ginsburg: a liberal, strong-willed and intelligent woman with high integrity. Such a justice would balance the ideologies of our judiciary and lead to more moderate decisions going forward.
Unfortunately, there are too many politicians — including our president — who deem the Supreme Court a suitable tool to promote their political agenda. The judicial branch never was, and never should be, a medium to acquire more voters or pass a bill. When looking at Barrett’s pivotal issues, she is heavily against the Affordable Care Act and wants to reverse Roe v. Wade. Not coincidentally, Trump has been attempting to gradually erode the ACA, despite its benefits for everyday Americans.
It’s long overdue for the U.S. to admit that our politicians have been making emotionally charged decisions instead of intelligent ones. I’m probably late to notice this selfish trend, but that doesn’t change the fact that it exists. Once, I believed that the Supreme Court was perhaps the last shred of our country’s dignity in this increasingly divisive environment we’ve created for ourselves. If Barrett is confirmed, it will be one of the first major gusts in an upcoming political hurricane.
Gone are the days of moderates, and each side is too stubborn to compromise with the other. Vanquished is the nominee who, despite identifying with one ideology, can also be persuaded to empathize across the aisle (aside from John Roberts, who is too good to be true). For any young person who aspires to be the next president, take it from me: To please a majority is a nearly-impossible task. 40% of Americans, according to Gallup polling, are Independent. Why, then, is it so hard to appoint a justice to reflect as much?
What message are we sending to future generations? To me, it’s to be as partisan as possible. Again, for any young person who aspires to be the next Supreme Court Justice, I’m here to tell you: Be in the right place at the right time and don’t worry about ethics. We live in a society where political extremism has manifested into uncontrollable chaos.
If anything, the past six months have given us a context where we cannot afford to make mistakes on simple problems. Appointing another conservative justice is the equivalent of stating that two-plus-two is five on a calculus exam. Instead, we must trust in the judicial process, respect the birthing document of our nation and balance the people who protect it.
Sam Woiteshek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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