Biden’s Thorny Options for Changing the Supreme Court: QuickTake


Fights over Supreme Court vacancies, which happen rarely, have become among the ugliest spectacles of a highly partisan era. Liberal frustration in particular has risen since 2016, when the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative, gave Democratic President Barack Obama the opportunity to move the court to the left. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, refused to consider Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, on the grounds that a vacancy shouldn’t be filled during a presidential election year. So it was Republican Donald Trump, rather than Obama, who wound up filling the vacancy, with Neil Gorsuch. Fast forward to 2020. A seat opened up just six weeks before Election Day with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the court’s leading liberal voices. In that case, Republicans rushed to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett, bolstering the court’s conservative majority.


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