It would appear that the Senate will confirm President Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court today. She has flown through the hearing process with ease and no one seriously questioned her qualifications, experience, or knowledge of the law.
Democratic complaints that her nomination came too close to the upcoming election can be dismissed with the simple observation that if the shoe had been on the other foot, and a Democratic President, with a Democratic controlled Senate at his disposal, had made the nomination, no Democrat would have argued that the process should be put off until after the people had decided. Just four years ago, President Obama did not hesitate to try and fill a vacancy in an election year.
In our Constitution the President has a duty, not just a right, to appoint a judge to fill a vacancy. The Senate has a duty to advise and consent. It is neither a right nor a duty of the “people” to appoint judges.
Trump haters who refuse to acknowledge that the President has done one good thing in his first term, must admit that the nomination of Judge Coney Barrett is of the highest quality, even if they distrust her conservative values. She has been on the Appeals Court for three years and no one questions her record there.
When she was confirmed for the Court of Appeals she was criticized for being an “orthodox” Catholic as if this meant that she was a kind of fanatic. I recall Sen. Dick Durbin asking her if she was not just a Catholic but an orthodox one.
The implication of the question, aside from raising the issue of a religious test for office, was that Amy Coney Barrett would be rigid and doctrinaire as a judge. However, as a lifelong Catholic I can say that orthodoxy means just the opposite in the Catholic tradition.
The Latin root of the word orthodoxy is ortho which just means straight, or straighten. An orthodontist straightens our teeth and an orthopedist straightens our bones. For Catholics it should mean holding a middle position between the extremes of puritanism and legalism on one hand, and laissez-faire or anything goes-ism on the other hand.
Moreover, the orthodox Catholic while trying to steer a straight course will seek to trim sails when things are tending toward one extreme or another in order to bring things back into balance. It seems to me that a truly “orthodox” Catholic would be a perfect candidate for the Supreme Court.
The real danger facing the Supreme Court today is not the appointments of President Trump, which have been remarkably free of political cronyism and favoritism, but the court packing scheme proposed by Democratic activists.
The refusal of Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to address the court-packing scheme in recent debates should be a major issue in this year’s election. President Trump and Vice-President Pence have been very forthright in opposing any idea of increasing the number of Supreme Court Judges. Tampering with the Court is a major issue in the campaign.
Even if Justice Coney Barrett would be the deciding vote in overturning Roe v. Wade, it would just mean that the issue would go back to the “people” and their representatives to decide. Roe v. Wade is not a law, but a judicial opinion that ruled that state laws prohibiting abortion were unconstitutional.
Legislators like Biden and Harris have been reluctant to deal with the abortion issue for years but now shudder at the possibility of having to do their duty and legislate. They would much prefer to pack the Supreme Court with compliant judges who will do the legislating for them.
Francis P. DeStefano, Ph.D., of Fairfield, is a writer, lecturer, historian and retired financial planner.