On Monday, Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the ninth Supreme Court Justice, filling a vacancy left by the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September. Barrett was sworn into office on the lawns of the White House following the vote.
For the better part of half a century, the nine-seat U.S. Supreme Court was dominated by liberal justices. Through those decades, progressive justices oversaw many changes that reshaped America — from the federal expansion of abortion in 1973 through Roe v. Wade, to the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2015.
Before Trump entered office, the Supreme Court had a 6-3 liberal majority. A week out from a heated election that is widely seen as a referendum on Trump’s first term, the Republican President and Senate have successfully flipped the Supreme Court to secure a 6-3 conservative majority.
On both sides of the aisle, Barrett’s confirmation has been described as a generation-shaping event. Some commentators even suggest that Roe v. Wade could be overturned in the years ahead.
Donald Trump is the first president to nominate three Supreme Court justices since Ronald Reagan (1981-1989). Amy Coney Barrett is Trump’s 220th first-term judicial appointment — a presidential record second only to Jimmy Carter’s (1977-1981).
While Obama left over 100 court vacancies, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have worked overtime to fill every vacancy on federal courts of appeals. The only remaining vacancy is now that left by Barrett in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Like so much in contemporary American politics, Barrett’s confirmation was a highly divisive issue. Democrats argued that, with only 45 days between Ginsburg’s death and the election, the seat should have remained vacant, allowing voters to render their verdict by choosing a new president and senate. (In the American system, the President nominates a judge and the Senate confirms the nominee after hearings.)
Indeed, Senate Democrats made use of every procedural hurdle they could find to delay the Barrett hearings.
Republicans countered that voters had already rendered their verdict at the last election by choosing a Republican president and Senate. Many pointed out that it hasn’t been uncommon for justices to be confirmed within a month. Moreover, Republicans argued that a ninth justice would be crucial in ruling on any disputes that might arise from the presidential contest — especially with so much mail-in voting.
In the end, every Senate Democrat voted against Amy Coney Barrett, along with two Independents and a sole Republican. Because of the Republican majority, Barrett’s confirmation still sailed through 52-48, in line with widespread expectation.
Compared to recent Supreme Court appointment hearings — such as Brett Kavanaugh’s in 2018 — Barrett’s were a walk in the park. Even Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein commented that they were “one of the best Senate hearings that I’ve participated in.”
Despite the controversy surrounding her appointment, Barrett has been widely heralded as a stellar appointee. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) called her “the most qualified Supreme Court nominee that I’ve encountered in my 34 years in the United States Senate”. McConnell described Barrett as “one of the most brilliant, admired, and well-qualified nominees in our lifetime.”
During the swearing-in ceremony at the White House, President Trump added his remarks:
“Justice Barrett made clear she will issue rulings based solely upon a faithful reading of the law and the Constitution as written, not legislate from the bench.”
“The American people put their trust in you and their faith in you,” said President Trump, “as you take up the task of defending our laws, our Constitution and this country we all love.”
Here in Australia, we have been praying and fasting throughout the month of October. Our overriding theme has been LIFE — and while most of our prayer is focused on issues back home, we are praying for the United States and the upcoming election.
It is hard to deny that the providence of God has been powerfully at work in these events. Barrett’s appointment comes just days after the Trump administration signed the Geneva Consensus Declaration, telling the United Nations once again that they will not stand for the global body’s aggressive pro-abortion activism.
With these and so many other answered prayers, God has given His people a striking reminder that
“we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”(Ephesians 6:12)
So don’t stop praying.
[Photo: Leigh Vogel-Pool/Getty Images]