By Jessica Easthope
The passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is setting the scene for a new politically-charged battle in what has already been a divisive campaign. Now, with just weeks to go before the election a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court is also at stake.
“They always refer to the ‘October Surprise,’ and we’re not even in October yet but this does change the dynamic,” said Brian Browne, the Assistant Vice President of Government Relations and an adjunct professor of political science at St. John’s University.
Browne says the country is waiting to see if history will repeat itself as Justice Ginsburg leaves a vacant seat on the Supreme Court.
“Republicans when they were faced with the same situation in 2016 after Justice Scalia died. They did not consider then President Obama’s nomination, so now there’s a call that that same practice be put into place,” Browne said.
As for the nomination, President Trump has one thing decided.
“I will be putting forth a nominee next week, it will be a woman,” he said at a campaign rally in North Carolina Sept. 19.
Topping the list of candidates is Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative and a Catholic who was a finalist for the last vacancy, which was ultimately filled by Brett Kavanaugh.
“She’s a conservative, member of the Federalist Society, mother of seven, two of them adopted from Haiti, young,” said Browne. “At 48-years-old she would be the youngest seated justice, so she would have a long influence on the court,” said Browne.
Barrett’s political and religious beliefs have been cause for controversy in the past.
“She is someone who has faced some tough and frankly unfair questioning. Senator Feinstein from California questioned some of her dogma and deeply held Catholic beliefs, we do not have a religious test for public officials, that’s unconstitutional,” Browne said.
Historically, the Catholic vote is split evenly down the party line, but if a nominee is confirmed ahead of Election Day, Browne says the Catholic vote could hold more power.
“For Catholics who are concerned with the issue of life, they will be energized by the idea of another justice appointed by President Trump,” Browne said.
Former Vice President Joe Biden says he will not release his list of potential nominees, and has called on Republicans to hold off until after Election Day.