The Supreme Court is another staging ground for politics

 The Supreme Court is another staging ground for politics

The Supreme Court was created by Article III of the United States Constitution. This article states that the “judicial power of the United States shall be invested in one Supreme Court.” The Constitution created the “idea” of the Supreme Court but left it up to Congress to figure out the nuts and bolts of the situation.

The Judiciary Act of 1789 created a set of lower courts and the Supreme Court. In 1789 the Supreme Court had six members – one Chief Justice and five Associate Justices. The size of the Supreme Court fluctuated between 1789 and 1869, between six and ten members. The Judiciary Act of 1869 established the current system of eight Justices and one Chief Justice we all know today.

Since 1789 one hundred fifteen individuals have served on the Supreme Court. Since 1971 the average term on the court has been twenty-six years.  

The way a Supreme Court nominee is confirmed has changed under the Trump administration. Prior to 2017, a cloture vote was needed to end the debate on a Supreme Court Justice. The Senate used the nuclear option to push Justice Kavanaugh onto the bench. The vote ended all bipartisan discussions when choosing Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Barrett.

On September 18, 2020, long-time Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away. With her passing, a vacancy was left open on the high court, erupting a debate in the media. In January 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia passed away, leaving a vacancy. President Obama’s nominee, however, was not granted a hearing. The Republican-controlled Senate argued that the vacancy shouldn’t be filled during an election year. 

With a Republican President and a Republican Senate, the nuclear option allowed the Senate to push through Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination as quickly as possible. She was confirmed on October 27, 2020. The Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh on October 6, 2018.

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