Virginia Tech, Liberty University experts weigh in on SCOTUS vacancy

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — President Donald Trump has the opportunity to appoint his third Supreme Court Justice, but this appointment does not come without controversy.

“It’s a fraught time on both sides,” said Virginia Tech Political Science Professor, Karen Hult.

Hult says there are advantages for Republicans in having another confirmation, but Democrats have their concerns with how this could affect policy that sits at the core of their beliefs.

“…probably overturning the Affordable Care Act and possibly also overturning Roe v. Wade,” Hult said.

Democrats argue this confirmation comes too close to an election, but Liberty University Law Professor Joseph Martins says this has happened many times before.

“Twenty-nine times in American history, there’s been an open Supreme Court vacancy in a presidential election year or in a lame-duck session, and presidents have filled that vacancy,” Martins said.

Constitutionally, Democrats cannot stop a confirmation without a majority in the Senate, but Martins adds there are ways they can slow the process.

“As we saw with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, even the minority party can request, you know, further investigation,” the Liberty University professor said. “They can say ‘The record is incomplete. We don’t know enough about this justice.'”

“One has to be thinking, though, about the disadvantages the Democrats might suffer from seeming to stand in the way,” Hult added.

If a Trump-nominee is to be confirmed, Hult says there is talk that Democrats will try to get the last word.

“Some sides of the Democratic Party saying ‘Well, if this president gets another nominee confirmed in the Supreme Court, we’ll have to open up the whole discussion of whether we expand the size of the court,'” the Virginia Tech professor said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is being accused of hypocrisy for not allowing President Barack Obama to nominate a Justice in March 2016, but pushing for Trump to name a nominee in late September 2020.

Hult noted that Democrats are using this situation to raise money for candidates in all federal races. She points out that in just 24 hours after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, Democratic candidates raised more than $50 million.

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