Supreme Court: Confirmation Hearing, Court Packing, Election
WASHINGTON -- The confirmation process for Amy Coney Barrett to be seated on the United States Supreme Court is underway this week in Washington.
Phil Kronebusch is a political science professor at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University. He says the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote on her nomination next Friday, October 23rd. It then goes to the full senate where she needs just a simple majority to get approved.
If and when she gets approved it would give the conservatives a six to three majority on the Supreme Court. The term 'court-packing' has come up a lot during this election. Kronebusch says Congress does legally have the power to set the size of the court.
The constitution doesn't say anything about the size of the Supreme Court. It says Congress is going to establish those details. So the Supreme Court in history has varied in size, but it has been nine for more than 100 years.
Kronebusch says the last time a President tried to change the size of the court was when Franklin Roosevelt was in office when he was losing a lot of cases by a four to five vote. His effort failed. There is speculation if the Democrats gain control of the Senate and Joe Biden wins the White House they'll try to expand the court to 11 or 13 Justices.
There has also been a lot of speculation about the upcoming Presidential election and what role the United States Supreme Court might play if it is close and becomes contested. Kronebusch says it's not a foregone conclusion that the federal court would get involved.
Before Bush versus Gore in 2000 I would have said the Supreme Court's role is going to be extremely limited because state election laws are really what determines what happens. So I was surprised at Bush versus Gore So I may be surprised again to see how cases move from a state court system which is almost certainly where they'd start to a federal court system and eventually the Supreme Court.
There has also been a lot of talk about if Amy Coney Barrett gets approved for the Supreme Court that legalized abortion may be in jeopardy. Kronebusch says there are state laws that may be challenged, but he doesn't expect them to get to the Supreme Court level in the next year.
He says one big case that is coming up soon concerns whether an adoption agency should be required by law to adopt to same-sex couples.
Another on of the top cases already on their schedule is a challenge to the Affordable Care Act which is scheduled to be heard on November 10th.