Debate this: Filling the Spreme Court Vacancy


Democrats: Voting Rights Act Under Attack

The election of our new president, Donald Trump, is frightening for many Americans. Marginalized groups in the U.S. such as Muslim Americans, undocumented workers, and members of the LGBT community are especially worried. Calls for a Muslim registry, the deportation of millions of people, and the building of a wall on our southern border have (rightfully) brought alarm to many households across the country. The most worrisome part of a Trump presidency, however, will be the justice he nominates to the Supreme Court.

While Trump will only be in office for four or eight years, Supreme Court justices generally stay on the bench for the entirety of their lives. As it stands, the Supreme Court is widely regarded as being split, with four liberal-leaning justices and four conservative-leaning justices. The death of Antonin Scalia earlier this year left a vacancy on the bench. President Obama appointed a nominee to fill the vacancy, Merrick Garland (a fairly moderate and qualified judge). Senate Republicans, however, have refused to even hold a hearing for Garland. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell stated Republicans would not even consider a replacement for Scalia, before President Obama ever made his nomination.
The result of the Presidential election have all but put an end to the hopes of appointing Garland. President-Elect Trump will have the opportunity to select a judge that is heavily conservative; and with a Republican-controlled Congress at his back, there will most likely be little opposition to the person he selects. Now with a five to four advantage in the Supreme Court, and more potential vacancies in the coming years, irreparable damage can be done to the rights of many Americans. Important decisions such as Roe v Wade are now on the table to be overturned (Trump has already said women should face a punishment for having abortions, and has promised to appoint a justice who will overturn the decision). The Voting Rights Act will also most likely remain under attack (Section Four was gutted by a conservative SCOTUS in 2013), and many other landmark cases could also be in jeopardy.
Should Trump appoint justices that will endanger the rights of Americans, it is the duty of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to oppose them. It is also our duty as citizens to be active in the political arena, and ensure that our voices are heard. As constituents, we should be contacting our members of congress to make sure our rights are protected. With Trump winning the election, the job of protecting our progress in human rights is more important than ever.

—Sam Jackson is a sophomore at USU, studying political science. Originally from College Park, MD, this is his second year in Logan. He is the vice president of the USU College Democrats, and is a member of the Government Relations Council on campus. Outside of debating politics,


Republicans: Finding Balance of the Court

In the thick of all the hoopla and fallout of the recent election, President Elect Donald Trump has now turned his attention to preparing to take the office of the President of the United States at noon on January 20. In preparation, he is constructing his cabinet and top advisors that will assist him in steering the ship for the next 4 years. He is well on his way, having already filled many key positions with plans to soon fill the remainder of those slots. One particular matter on the agenda is not however a cabinet appointment, and many consider it to be even more critical. The Supreme Court.

Since the death of Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in February, the Court has moved forward with only 8 Justices instead of the standard slate of 9. In the weeks following his death, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, A federal judge on the Court of Appeals in Washington DC. In order for the nominee to take the bench, the US Senate must hold hearings on him/her and reach a majority vote. Merrick Garland has yet to take the bench because the Senate majority has been held by the Republicans, and Merrick Garland is considered to be a moderate liberal which caused Republicans to dig in their heels for fear of replacing a beloved conservative on the court with a moderate liberal. What that would do is throw off the balance of the court. Before Scalia’s death, there were 4 conservative justices, 4 liberal justices, and one moderate justice.
For this election, many Republicans were hesitant or not fully confident with their vote going to Trump. What may have been a big deciding factor for many in voting for Trump could very well be the assurance that Trump would appoint a conservative justice to the court. Many people are aware of just how critical the court’s decisions are. Indeed it appears that Trump will follow through on that promise. He is choosing from a list of 21 conservative justices. The two finalists appear to be Judge Diane Sykes, a staunch conservative from Wisconsin, and conservative hero Bill Pryor from Alabama. Both of these Justices cause liberals to squirm and momentarily re live the painful feelings felt on Election Night. In addition to this appointment, many believe that Trump will have the opportunity to replace up to 3 or 4 justices in his term due to retirement or possibility of death. The Court is aging fast, and conservatives may look to get fresh blood on their side in order to keep the balance of the Court on their control for at least a generation. It was a painful election for the Democrats, but one of the lasting pains will follow them for years to come. This is the year of the Trump, but also the year that the highest court in the land slipped through the Democrats fingers.
—Keaton Smoot is a junior at USU who is fed up with group projects.