Making a mockery of an invented principle that just four years ago led them to stonewall an eminently qualified Supreme Court nominee for the better part of an election year, Senate Republicans have confirmed Amy Coney Barrett in exactly one month, about half the time it took to confirm any other sitting member of the high court.
This secures a lifetime appointment for a conservative jurist who has left little doubt she will vote to invalidate the Affordable Care Act and give states more latitude to limit abortion rights. Outraged voters must register their anger at the polls.
Speaking of the polls: In her confirmation hearing, Barrett dodged when asked whether she would recuse herself from casting a vote that could decide a contested election between Joe Biden and the president who just nominated her.
This is a recipe for a crisis of legitimacy across two of America’s three branches of government.
Barrett must know that federal law states that any judge “shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”
She must know that while this law is not binding on the high court, millions of reasonable Americans will doubt whether she can fairly weigh two sides in an election dispute.
She is surely aware that Donald Trump — who is waging a fact-free war on mail-in voting, who refuses to commit to a peaceful transfer of power and who has flatly stated that the Supreme Court may need a ninth vote to determine whether or not he gets a second term — has made the inherently difficult job of seeming above-board altogether impossible.
If court challenges wind up giving the Supreme Court power to swing the election, Barrett must sideline herself. Better a court that’s deadlocked 4-4 than one that appears irredeemably hostage to partisan politics.