Amy Coney Barrett was formally sworn in Tuesday as the Supreme Court’s ninth justice, her oath administered in private by Chief Justice John Roberts. Her first votes on the court could include two big topics affecting the man who appointed her.
The court is weighing a plea from President Donald Trump to prevent the Manhattan district attorney from acquiring his tax returns. It is also considering appeals from the Trump campaign and Republicans to shorten the deadline for receiving and counting absentee ballots in the battleground states of North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County filed legal papers at the court Tuesday arguing that Barrett should not take part in the Pennsylvania case. It’s not clear if she will vote in the pending cases, but she will make that call.
Barrett was confirmed Monday by the Senate in a 52-48 virtual party line vote. She is expected to begin work as a justice on Tuesday after taking the second of two oaths required of judges by federal law. No justice has assumed office so close to a presidential election or immediately confronted issues so directly tied to the incumbent president’s political and personal fortunes.
Barrett declined to commit to Democratic demands that she step aside from any cases on controversial topics, including a potential post-election dispute over the presidential results.
At 48, she’s the youngest justice since Clarence Thomas joined the court in 1991 at age 43.
Other election-related issues are pending at the high court, which next week also will hear a clash of LGBTQ rights and religious freedoms. The fate of the Affordable Care Act is on the agenda on Nov. 10, and Trump himself last week reiterated his opposition to the Obama-era law. “I hope they end it,” he said in an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”
On Friday, Barrett, the most open opponent of abortion rights to join the court in decades, also could be called upon to weigh in on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. The state is appealing lower court rulings invalidating the ban. Abortion opponents in Pittsburgh also are challenging a so-called bubble zone that prevents protesters from getting too close to abortion clinics.
The court put off acting on both cases before Barrett joined the court, without offering any explanation in the Mississippi case. It ordered Pittsburgh to file a response to the appeal filed by the protesters, who call themselves sidewalk counselors.
It’s not clear that the public will know how Barrett voted in the two abortion cases because the court typically doesn’t make the vote counts public when it is considering whether to grant full review to cases.
Barrett is joining the court at an unusual moment. The justices are meeting remotely by telephone because of the coronavirus pandemic, both for their private conferences and public argument sessions, at least through the end of 2020. The public can listen to the arguments as they take place, a change also resulting from the court’s response to the pandemic.
After her first private conference with her new colleagues on Friday, two weeks of arguments begin on Monday. In an institution that pays strict attention to seniority, Barrett will go last in the private and public sessions.
As she settles into her new office at the court, Barrett will be joined by four law clerks, usually recent law school graduates who have experience working for federal judges.
When the court reopens to the public and the justices return to the courtroom, Barrett is expected to assume several duties reserved for the court’s junior justice. She will be a member of the committee that oversees the court’s public cafeteria, and the person who takes notes and answers the door when someone knocks during the justices’ private conferences.
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.
October 27, 2020 at 11:11 am
The best solution to the Supreme Court debacle. Reduce number of Judges ! If anything was to reach the SC it better be Fing important for a ruling from those on high! Remand the cases back down! It is THE Supreme Court! 4 judges! None of current Justices shall remain except Roberts. The other 3 selected by super majority of House and Senate! 18 year terms. Not life time appointments! See how easy that is! Lol
October 27, 2020 at 1:40 pm
So, Trump’s taxes, election issues, Obamacare, abortion fights, LGBTQ rights don’t matter to Sotomayor, Breyer, Kagan who vote left most of the time? Who the hell are you kidding? Do Dem Presidents NOT nominate left leaning justices every time? As Obama said, elections have consequences. When the Pres. and the Senate are of the same party, have at it folks when an opening comes up!!! Anyone who denies that the Dems would not have done the same in the same circumstances, well, is a typical liar and denier (LEFT).
October 27, 2020 at 4:32 pm
God bless Judge Amy.
Dr John McMahon
October 29, 2020 at 5:38 am
Thank GOD you were fired from your teaching job Sonja! Now Florida kids will have a fighting chance to avoid your Marxist ideology brainwashing. Thankfully a new conservative patriotic age is coming to our schools and traitors like Barak Obama and radical Islam will be irrelevant footnotes in American history.
Comments are closed.