(Novena reader Thomas Jones sends us the following submission – ed.)
With the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the US Supreme Court has a vacancy, right before the end of President Donald Trump’s first term.
This feels like déjà vu: in 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court nearly a year before the end of his presidential term.
The Republican legislators, in outrage, blocked this nomination since, as they insisted, this nomination ought to be made by the new president. Of course, they were hedging that the new president would be a Republican, and wanted their president to choose the Justice.
I actually agreed with this rationale at the time, and wanted the new president, whether Republican or Democrat, to nominate the new Justice.
Here we are four years later, and the Republicans are changing course.
In just over a month before the Presidential election, President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill Justice Ginsburg’s vacancy.
Republican Senators are lobbying incessantly for President Trump’s appointee to be approved.
In the first instance with Judge Garland, the Republicans appealed to ethics and sound judgment. In the second instance with Judge Barrett, the Republicans’ actions revealed that it was never about ethics and sound judgment. The former was simply a means to their end – to get their way.
Then there is Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
But I believe a future Supreme Court Justice ought to prioritize justice, and I am concerned that she does not recognize the hypocrisy of the Republican move to push forth her nomination, especially considering how this goes against a very recent precedent.
If she were truly a just judge, I believe she should have declined the nomination and insisted that no appointments ought to be made until the new presidential term.
I am reminded of the wisdom of King Solomon in passing judgment after hearing two women who each claimed that an infant was hers (cf. 1 Kings 3:16-28). Offering his counsel, to have the baby divided in half, revealed the truth of who the real mother was.
In the same manner, if Judge Barrett were a just judge like King Solomon, she would have exercised judgment in a manner that would have revealed President Trump’s and the Republican Senators’ deception rather than enable it.
But she didn’t. This suggests that justice does not drive her, but ambition and ideology motivate her.
In addition to justice, a person of faith is called to detachment, also known in Ignatian parlance as indifference.
As St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote in his Spiritual Exercises, “we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things.”
“Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created.” (SpEx 23). This end is the praise, reverence and service of God.
If Judge Barrett exhibited Ignatian indifference, she would neither have ambition for or be against the title of Justice but instead would seek justice. And the just approach would be, as the Republicans lobbied for in 2016, that a new Justice be appointed during the new presidential term.
Besides, if the Republicans are confident that Trump will be re-elected, why not wait until the new term?
This leads to another issue of injustice: The potential for President Donald Trump to prevent a peaceful transition of power.
When questioned on this matter, Judge Amy Coney Barrett refused to answer.
Preventing a peaceful transfer of power would be tyranny. Complying with tyranny is promoting injustice. Judge Barrett cannot hold the title Justice while promoting injustice.
Additionally, tyranny would result in the end of the United States of America, whose founders escaped tyranny and sought to establish a nation without a single ruler.
Therefore, regardless of her qualifications, Judge Barrett’s inability to protect the Constitution and the American people from the aforementioned threats to ethics, justice and democracy deems her unfit for a Supreme Court appointment.
Judge Barrett is certainly unfit to fill the shoes of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Justice who truly prioritized justice.