The Opposition Virus
What the current Supreme Court nomination tells us about healthcare reform
This week, a new judge will be confirmed to the Supreme Court. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is set to become the first African American female justice. Right now, it looks like the Senate confirmation vote is probably going to be close to 53 – 47, with just three Republicans voting to confirm her.
Setting aside her political views, she appears to be imminently qualified. The newest associate Justice graduated from Harvard Law School where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She served eight years as a district court judge and one year on the appellant court. She has an impressive resume to be sure.
Since she is so qualified, why are forty-seven senators not voting to confirm her? Politics. It is the politics of opposition, and it is a disease that has affected both parties. This disease of opposition may even be more harmful to our country than COVID-19. In the pandemic of opposition, it will be very difficult for this country to solve some of our biggest problems (healthcare included) and we may be in a place where the only way a Supreme Court justice gets seated is when the party that controls the White House also controls the Senate.
It wasn’t always like this, although it has certainly become more prevalent. The last four Supreme Court justices were approved on an almost strict party-line vote. Justice Amy Coney Barret received no Democratic votes, Justice Brett Kavanaugh received one Democratic vote, Justice Neil Gorsuch received three Democratic votes, and Justice Elena Kagan received five Republican votes.
Now, some say that these party-line votes happened because the nominees were bent so far to the right or the left or were trying to legislate from the bench. If this is true, answer me this: How did Justice Antonin Scalia get confirmed 98-0 and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg get confirmed 96-3 when they could be seen greatest polar opposites in recent history?
The Found Fathers of our country put a great deal of thought into the separation of powers. They envisioned the Senate as a place to confirm a President’s nomination based on qualifications and not a political bent. Of course, a President is going to nominate people who are more likely than not going to agree with him or her.
I’m sure a few of you are wondering why I’m spending time writing about the Supreme Court on a healthcare news website. Well, the opposition virus plaguing the Supreme Court nomination process as of late is a perfect example of why I do not think we will have meaningful healthcare reform in DC. It is keeping our elected officials from working together to find solutions. Instead, each party is becoming more and more diametrically opposed to the other while things fall apart around us.
One final thought I want to share. Do you know who the last Supreme Court nominee was that was named by a President when the other party controlled the Senate? It wasn’t that long ago. Now Attorney-General Merrick Garland was nominated by President Barack Obama during an election year. Mr. Garland was immensely qualified. Like Judge Jackson, he graduated from Harvard Law School and served as a federal judge for twenty-four years. Despite his qualifications, however, Republicans refused to hold hearings or hold a confirmation vote and his nomination was blocked.
Tell me again how you think healthcare will be fixed in the next two to six years?