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Religious Tolerance logo


 

Part 31 of "Conflicts During
President Trump's Administration"


During the second half of 2020-SEP:
Can one be a sincere Catholic AND Democrat?
High Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies.
Judge Amy Barrett nominated as new Justice.

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2020-SEP-17: "You can't be a Catholic and a Democrat:"

Father James Altman, a U.S. Roman Catholic priest, released a video with the above title. 1 On SEP-15, Bishop William Patrick Callahan, Bishop of La Crosse, WI, threatened him with "canonical penalties."

Mary Ann Kreitzer, President of Catholic Media Coalition responded with an open letter. She said:

"I am an orthodox Catholic who has spent my entire adult life fighting for babies waiting to be born; sidewalk counseling outside abortion facilities; offering a shelter home for moms in crisis; even going to jail several times for rescue attempts.  ... Many of our members have watched and listened to the edifying sermons by Fr. James Altman and remarked on what a blessing he must be to his bishop for speaking the truth with clarity and charity about the moral obligation of Catholics, particularly our shepherds, to defend intrinsic moral issues.

So I was mystified by your public statement rebuking and threatening Fr. Altman for his impassioned defense of the faith as he warned Catholics not to endanger their souls by embracing the Democratic Party of death and perversion."

She criticized Bishop Callahan for making public his statement critical of Father Altman, for acknowledging the "undeniable truth" of Fr. Altman's statement while dismissing it, and for threatening him with penalties. 2

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2020-SEP-18: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies. President Trump promises a quick replacement:

She was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993. During her tenure, she became famous for her powerful dissents and landmark majority decisions supporting equality and rights for women and the LGBT community.  

Justice Ginsburg died on Friday, 2020-SEP-18 of complications from pancreatic cancer. She was 87. NPR reported that as her death approached, she said:

"My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

She didn't live long enough. If a new president is installed, it won't occurr until mid-2021-JAN.

According to The Washington Post:

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced at 8:51 p.m. that 'President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor.' That was almost the exact amount of time it took McConnell to announce after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016 that whoever President Barack Obama nominated would not receive a vote." 3

Perhaps the greatest power that a president has is their responsibility to nominate Justices for the U.S. Supreme Court. Typically, politically liberal presidents nominate liberal justices and conservative presidents nominate conservative justices. There are many recent rulings by the high Court that have profoundly affected U.S. society, like those that made abortions widely available before the fetus is viable, allowed same-sex couples to marry, and -- most recently -- guaranteed equal rights and employment security to transgender persons. Recently, the High Court has been nearly equally split on many rulings.

Perhaps the main difference between liberal and conservative Justices on the High Court is their understanding of the nature of the U.S. Constitution.

  • Conservative Justices interpret the document according to the thoughts and beliefs of its original writers. This is called "originalism."

  • Liberal Justices note that the beliefs and practices within the country have changed enormously since the Constituton was written, and continue to change today: Slavery was abolished; women were allowed to vote; racial segregation was widely eliminated; same-sex sexual activities were decriminalized; same-sex couples were allowed to marry; racial, gender, sexual orientation and other forms of discrimination were reduced or eliminated. They continually reinterpret the meaning of the Constitution in terms of today's culture.

Justice Ginsburg was one of the most liberal Justices on the Court. She was only the second woman to be appointed to the Court the history of the U.S. With her death, President Trump had the power to nominate an extreme conservative to the Court. If such a nomination were to be approved by Congress, the majority of Justices would be conservative. Major past rulings could be replaced by new conservative rulings made.

President Trump announced on SEP-19 that he would announce his nomination during the week of SEP-20, and that he will select a woman. He said:

"It will be a woman — a very talented, very brilliant woman. We haven’t chosen yet, but we have numerous women on the list."

He tweeted:

"We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!" 4

Democrats have called for the Senate to wait until the next president takes office during 2020-JAN before replacing Justice Ginsberg.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) issued a statement, saying:

"I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice [Antonin] Scalia. We are now even closer to the 2020 election -– less than two months out -– and I believe the same standard must apply." 5

The Movement for Black Lives issued a statement Saturday urging people to call their senators to oppose a quick confirmation of a Trump nominee. They said: "We are asking people to take a stand today." 6

Speculation about a successor to the late Justice Ginsburg included five judges from Federal appeals courts. In alphabetic order, they were:

  • Amy Coney Barrett, 48;
  • Allison Eid, 55;
  • Britt Grant, 42;
  • Barbara Lagoa,* 51;
  • Joan Larsen, 51.

During 2017, Judge Joan Larsen's confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit was opposed by 27 LGBTQ rights groups who had concerns about her views on the civil rights of their community.

One of these judges appear to be the most likely to be chosen. The Washington Post indicated on SEP-25, that President Trump has told some people close to him that he plans to nominate Judge Barrett. This would ensure a firm conservative majority on the High Court for many years in the future, assuming that the Court size remains at 9 Justices.. She has referred to the Roe v. Wade abortion access ruling as an "erroneous decision." She once signed a public statement of protest against the Affordable Care Act's birth control benefit. 7

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2020-SEP-25: Justice Ginsburg laid in state. Her replacement is confirmed:

Justice Ginsburg, who died at age 87, laid in state at the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall on SEP-25. She is the 35th person, the first woman, the first Jewish person, and the second Supreme Court justice to receive this honor. She will be buried next to her husband Martin at Arlington National Cemetery during the week of SEP-27.

President Trump's selection of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ginsburg was confirmed. She has the potential of serving on the High Court for at least three decades. She said that Justice Scalia’s conservative "... judicial philosophy is mine, too."

President Trump said that she is:

"... one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds."

"She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials." 

"Her qualifications are unsurpassed, unsurpassed, and her record is beyond reproach. This should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation. Should be very easy. Good luck. It’s going to be very quick." 11

She will probably be strongly attacked by Democrats for her very conservative views.

Her nomination was confirmed by Congress. This threatens women's access to abortion; employment security for the LGBT community, and other groups; allowing same-sex marriage, etc.

Nikki Metzgar of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum -- a progressive group -- commented:

"Judge Barrett has a track record of harming the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, pregnant people, immigrants, and more. She has made clear she would invalidate the Affordable Care Act, an act that would take health care away from millions of people, including 2 million AAPIs, during a pandemic." 12 

Some commentators have suggested that Justices Breyer and Thomas may be considering retiring from the High Court. That would give the next President two opportunities to restore balance of the Supreme Court in a liberal direction, or to firmly cement the Court as conservative for many decades into the future.

It is hard to overstate how important Barrett’s nomination to the highest court in the land is, both in the long- and short-term.

Ronna McDaniel, writing for Fox News said:

"Trump’s judicial appointments will shape the courts for generations to come. ... Working hand-in-glove with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), President Trump has reshaped the federal bench at a record clip, installing more federal judges over the past nearly four years — 217 of them — than any president in the past four decades. ... Barrett recognizes the proper role of a Supreme Court justice is to interpret and apply the Constitution as written, not to legislate from the bench. Her belief in originalism and adhering to the plainly understood meaning of the Constitution means that Barrett won’t impose her own policy preferences — an action that subverts the democratic process and robs the American people of their say on issues of the day." 13

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This topic continues in the next essay, Part 32

Return to the Trump menu.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Fr. James Altman, "You cannot be Catholic & a Democrat. Period" video, 2020-AUG-30, at: https://www.youtube.com/
  2. Mary Ann Kreitzer, "Dear Bishop: Fr. Altman deserves your praise, not threats, for telling Catholics they can’t be Democrats," Life Site News, 2020-SEP-17, at: https://www.lifesitenews.com/
  3. John Watner, et al., "Trump says he will nominate woman to the Supreme Court next week," Washington Post, 2020-SEP-19, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
  4. James Hohmann, "The Daily 202: Nine implications of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death – for 2020 and beyond," Washington Post, 2020-SEP-19, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
  5. Casey Grove, "Alaska Senator Murkowski said Friday she would not vote for a justice ahead of Inauguration Day," 2020-SEP-18, at: https://www.alaskapublic.org
  6. Hannah Knowles, "Nine implications of Ginsburg’s death — for 2020 and beyond," Washington Post, 2020-SEP-19, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
  7. Jennifer Bendery, "Trump Plans To Nominate Amy Coney Barrett To Supreme Court: Reports," Huffpost, 2020-SEP-25, at: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/
  8. "Trump blasts ballots when asked about election aftermath: 'The ballots are a disaster'," Fox News, 2020-SEP-24, at: https://www.foxnews.com/
  9. Melissa Quinn, "Nearly 500 ex-military, national security officials throw support behind Biden," CBS News, 2020-SEP-24, at: https://www.cbsnews.com/
  10. "Trump nominates Catholic mom of 7..." Life Site News, 2020-SEP-26, at: https://www.lifesitenews.com/
  11. Nikki Metzgar, "National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Denounces Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court," NAPAWF. 2020-SEP-25, at: https://www.napawf.org/
  12. Ronna McDaniel, "RNC Chair McDaniel: Trump nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court fulfills campaign promise," Fox News, 2020-SEP-27, at: https://www.foxnews.com/
  13. Aaron Blake, "5 takeaways from the first presidential debate", Washington Post, 2020-SEP 29, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/

Copyrighted © 2020 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2020-SEP-18
Latest update: 2020-OCT-23
Author: B.A. Robinson

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