Local opinions on Amy Coney Barrett nomination split along party lines
President Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court has become an issue divided along party lines going into the 2020 general election.
Democrats are demanding the recently departed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat not be filled until after the election, and Republicans are calling for the seat to be filled before Nov. 3.
By and large, this partisan split over Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court is apparent in the opinions of local Democrats and Republicans.
In an interview with the News-Press, David Atkins, the California Democratic Party Region 10 director and the Santa Barbara County Democratic Central Committee south vice chair, said the Supreme Court nominee harbors “extremist views about the law.”
“She would be to the right of even (the late Justice) Antonin Scalia, and according to her record, she would roll back protections for workers, roll back environmental protections and almost certainly undue Roe v. Wade,” he said.
Concerns over some of these issues were echoed in a statement from Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, who called Judge Barrett’s judicial record “troubling.” He added that the Supreme Court nomination should wait until after the election.
“The majority of Americans believe we should wait until after the election to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat, and I agree. The Affordable Care Act, Roe v. Wade, workplace rights, and the integrity of our democracy are all on the line,” he said.
Mr. Atkins took issue with Republicans nominating Judge Barrett, whose nomination would give the GOP a “lock on the court for a generation that they didn’t earn.” This referred to the Republicans winning the presidency in the 2016 election via the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote.
If President Trump were to emerge victorious during the 2020 election by winning the Electoral College without the popular vote, and only nominate Judge Barrett after that, Mr. Atkins said that would still be “an outrage.” In addition to unequal apportionment in the Senate and gerrymandering, Mr. Atkins said the Electoral College creates an “apartheid electoral system.”
Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, said Judge Barrett is “an extreme ideological appointment” with a track record that indicates she will undermine efforts toward greater equity and undermine the Affordable Care Act.
Referring back to 2016, when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold proceedings to confirm President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, because it was an election year, Sen. Jackson accused the Republicans of hypocrisy for trying to get Judge Barrett confirmed with an election just over a month away.
“This appointment really does undermine the integrity and the credibility and legitimacy of our court,” the senator said.
Most well-known Santa Barbara Republicans were expectedly supportive of President Trump nominating Judge Barrett.
Santa Barbara County GOP chair Bobbi McGinnis said she’s “thrilled” about the nomination.
“I’m so glad that President Trump is selecting a woman and someone who is a constitutionalist. Someone who’s not going to write the law, but defend the law,” she said.
As for the Democrats’ protestations about the timing of the nomination just over a month before the Nov. 3 election, Ms. McGinnis said the Democrats would do just as the president had if they were in his position.
“If they were in President Trump’s shoes, they would do the exact same thing,” she said.
Andy Caldwell, the executive director of the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, said it isn’t too soon to replace Justice Ginsburg and that the late justice herself said there’s nothing in the U.S. Constitution that limits when a president can nominate or fill a vacancy.
He added that “there’s a reason there is an odd number of jurists in these courts” and that reason could apply to the upcoming election. Due to the legal challenges that could precipitate from mail voting and ballot harvesting, having only eight justices on the court could be an issue if post-election adjudication ends with an evenly split vote.
“There’s a reason for having nine,” said Mr. Caldwell, who’s the Republican challenger against Rep. Carbajal in the Nov. 3 election. He is also a News-Press columnist.
One local Republican who broke company with her fellow GOP members was Denise Spangler Adams, who was concerned that Judge Barrett, if confirmed, would create a 7-2 Catholic majority on the Supreme Court.
“I think that the Supreme Court needs to be more representative of America,” she said.
Ms. Adams also questioned whether Judge Barrett, a mother of seven school-age children, could balance raising that many kids with the demands of being a Supreme Court Justice.
“How could anybody have seven children and parent them and still be on the Supreme Court?” she said.