Trump says Supreme Court needs nine judges as it will decide election

‘It’s very important to have a 9th judge’: Trump says Supreme Court needs RBG replacement NOW because it may have to decide the presidential election and ‘having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation’

  • President Donald Trump said the Supreme Court needs nine justices because they may have to decide the winner of the 2020 presidential election 
  • ‘Just in case it would be more political than it should be I think it’s very important to have a 9th judge,’ he said
  • Trump has complained about the number of mail-in ballots being used in the general election because of the coronavirus pandemic
  • Republicans are suing in many states to try to stop expansions of mail-in voting 
  • Trump will name his nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday 

President Donald Trump said Wednesday the Supreme Court needs its full complement of nine justices because they may have to decide the winner of the 2020 presidential election. 

Trump repeated his many complaints and concerns about mail-in ballots – at least 80 million Americans are expected to use them instead of waiting in line on Election Day because of the coronavirus – and said the issue will likely end up in the high court. 

‘I think it’s better if you go before the election because I think the scam the Democrats are pulling, this scam will be before the United States Supreme Court,’ Trump said at the White House.

He said a tie situation of 4-to-4 justices would not ideal although if that should be the scenario then the lower court ruling would stand.

‘I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation,’ Trump said.  

‘Just in case it would be more political than it should be I think it’s very important to have a 9th judge,’ he said.

President Donald Trump said the Supreme Court needs nine justices because they may have to decide the winner of the 2020 presidential election

President Donald Trump said the Supreme Court needs nine justices because they may have to decide the winner of the 2020 presidential election

President Trump plans to name his nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday; above the remaining Supreme Court justices gathered Wednesday morning for Ginsburg's memorial service

President Trump plans to name his nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday; above the remaining Supreme Court justices gathered Wednesday morning for Ginsburg’s memorial service

The Republican Party has launched several lawsuits against states that have expanded mail-in ballot options and mailed ballots to all registered voters ahead of the November 3 election date.

Some court rulings have already come down. In Pennsylvania, for example, Democrats won a victory when a judge upheld a new state rule that expanded the deadline for mail-in ballots to be counted. The state will allow any ballot received by the Friday after the election to be counted as long as it’s post marked by November 3.

Republicans are already planning on appealing that ruling to the Supreme Court. 

Additionally, a court ruling in Michigan extended the period during which late-arriving mail ballots could be legally counted. And a Texas court refused a Republican request to stop ballots from being mailed to registered voters.  

Trump has complained – without showing proof – that mail-in voting leads to a ‘rigged’ election. Numerous studies have shown that mail-in votes do not lead to voter fraud. 

If Trump succeeds in getting Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement confirmed before Election Day, he would have appointed three of the nine justices hearing any election-related case.

Ginsburg died on Friday from complications of colon cancer and her death has resulted in a political battle to replace her. Trump is expected to name a conservative to replace the liberal icon.  

The last presidential election to be decided by the Supreme Court was Bush vs. Gore in 2000. The Supreme Court’s ruling resulted in George W. Bush being declared the winner over Al Gore.

Trump expressed confidence his nominee could be confirmed by November 3, particularly after most Senate Republicans said the president should appoint Ginsburg’s replacement. Democrats want the winner of November’s contest to appoint the next justice, citing precedent set by Republicans in 2016 when they would not hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s nominee. 

But Republicans say this year is different because their party controls both the White House and the Senate, which was not the case in 2016.  

‘We should go very quickly,’ Trump said. ‘You see the Republicans are very united. As far as timing is concerned, we were elected. We have a lot of time.’

Trump plans to name his nominee at 5 p.m. on Saturday. He said he will name a woman to the lifetime position and, of his five finalists, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, is said to be the favorite.

The president said no matter who he names he does not expect any trouble in the confirmation hearings, which will be led by his close ally Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.  

‘He wouldn’t have to hold a hearing,’ Trump said of Graham. ‘He’s going to.’  

However, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday would not promise to hold a vote on President Trump’s nominee ahead of the election.

McConnell said he would wait for the person to come out of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings and then set the date for the vote on the Senate floor.

‘When the nomination comes out of committee, then I’ll decide when and how to proceed,’ he said after the Senate Republicans’ lunch on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

He would not address if that vote would be before or after November 3, when voters decide who will be the next president of the United States.   

McConnell could be more peckish on the timing to help out his senators in tight re-election contests who would prefer to deal with the issue after the voters go to the polls.

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell would not promise to hold a vote on President Trump's nominee ahead of the election

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell would not promise to hold a vote on President Trump’s nominee ahead of the election

Timing in the Senate is also tough. There would be less than 40 days before the election to complete the process when most nominations take at least 70 days. Traditionally a nominee holds meetings with senators, has a confirmation hearing that could take two or three days, has to be voted out of committee and then has the final vote on the Senate floor.

Graham, however, has expressed confidence a nominee could be confirmed ahead of the election.

‘I’m confident we can have a hearing that will allow the nominee to be submitted to the floor before Election Day. Following the precedents of the Senate, I think we can do that. I’ll tell you more about the hearing when we get a nomination Saturday, if that’s when it is,’ Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. 

Who is Amy Coney Barrett? 

On Saturday afternoon, Trump named Amy Coney Barrett, 48, of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa, 52, of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees.

Emerging as the favorite is Barrett, 48, a mother of seven children, including two adopted from Haiti and one with special needs.

 Her involvement in a cult-like Catholic group where members are assigned a ‘handmaiden’ has caused concern in Barret’s nomination to other courts and is set to come under fierce review again if she is Trump’s pick.

The group was the one which helped inspire ‘The Handmaids Tale’, book’s author Margaret Atwood has said. 

Barrett emerges now as a front runner after she was already shortlisted for the nomination in 2018 which eventually went to Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump called the federal appellate court judge ‘very highly respected’ when questioned about her Saturday. 

Born in New Orleans in 1972, she was the first and only woman to occupy an Indiana seat on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Married to Jesse M. Barrett, a partner at SouthBank Legal in South Bend and former Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, the couple have five biological and two adopted children. 

Their youngest biological child has Down Syndrome.

Friends say she is a devoted mother – and say with just an hour to go until she was voted into the 7th District Court of Appeals by the U.S. Senate in 2017, Barrett was outside trick-or-treating with her kids. 

Barrett’s strong Christian ideology makes her a favorite of the right but her involvement in a religious group sometimes branded as a ‘cult’ is set to be harshly criticized.    

In 2017, her affiliation to the small, tightly knit Christian group called People of Praise caused concern while she was a nominee for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. 

The New York Times reported that the practices of the group would surprise even other Catholics with members of the group swearing a lifelong oath of loyalty, called a covenant, to one another. 

They are also assigned and held accountable to a personal adviser, known until recently as a ‘head’ for men and a ‘handmaid’ for women and believe in prophecy, speaking in tongues and divine healings. 

Members are also encouraged to confess personal sins, financial information and other sensitive disclosures to these advisors. 

Advisors are allowed to report these admissions to group leadership if necessary, according to an account of one former member. 

The organization itself says that the term ‘handmaid’ was a reference to Jesus’s mother Mary’s description of herself as a ‘handmaid of the Lord.’

They said they recently stopped using the term due to cultural shifts and now use the name ‘women leaders.’ 

The group deems that husbands are the heads of their wives and should take authority over the family while ‘the heads and handmaids give direction on important decisions, including whom to date or marry, where to live, whether to take a job or buy a home, and how to raise children,’ the Times reported. 

Unmarried members are placed living with married couples members often look to buy or rent homes near other members. 

Founded in 1971, People of Praise was part of the era’s ‘great emergence of lay ministries and lay movements in the Catholic Church,’ founder Bishop Peter Smith told the Catholic News Agency. 

Beginning with just 29 members, it now has an estimated 2,000. 

According to CNA, some former members of the People of Praise allege that leaders exerted undue influence over family decision-making, or pressured the children of members to commit to the group. 

At least 10 members of Barrett’s family, not including their children, also belong to the group. 

Barrett’s father, Mike Coney, serves on the People of Praise’s powerful 11-member board of governors, described as the group’s ‘highest authority.’ 

Her mother Linda served as a handmaiden.  

The group’s ultra-conservative religious tenets helped spur author Margaret Atwood to publish The Handmaid’s Tale, a story about a religious takeover of the U.S. government, according to a 1986 interview with the writer.

The book has since been made into a hit TV series. 

According to legal experts, loyalty oaths such at the one Barrett would have taken to People of Praise could raise legitimate questions about a judicial nominee’s independence and impartiality. 

‘These groups can become so absorbing that it’s difficult for a person to retain individual judgment,’ said Sarah Barringer Gordon, a professor of constitutional law and history at the University of Pennsylvania. 

‘I don’t think it’s discriminatory or hostile to religion to want to learn more’ about her relationship with the group.

‘We don’t try to control people,’ said Craig S. Lent. ‘And there’s never any guarantee that the leader is always right. You have to discern and act in the Lord. 

‘If and when members hold political offices, or judicial offices, or administrative offices, we would certainly not tell them how to discharge their responsibilities.’

During her professional career, Barrett spent two decades as a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, from which she holds her bachelor’s and law degrees.

She was named ‘Distinguished Professor of the Year’ three separate years, a title decided by students. 

A former clerk for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, she was nominated by Trump to serve on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017 and confirmed in a 55-43 vote by the Senate later that year.

At the time, three Democratic senators supported her nomination: Joe Donnelly (Ind.), who subsequently lost his 2018 reelection bid, Tim Kaine (Va.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.), according to the Hill.

She was backed by every GOP senator at the time, but she did not disclose her relationship with People of Praise which led to later criticism of her appointment. 

Barret is well-regarded by the religious right because of this devout faith.

Yet these beliefs are certain to cause problems with her conformation and stand in opposition to the beliefs of Ginsburg, who she would be replacing.

Axios reported in 2019 that Trump told aides he was ‘saving’ Barrett to replace Ginsburg.

Her deep Catholic faith was cited by Democrats as a large disadvantage during her 2017 confirmation hearing for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

‘If you’re asking whether I take my faith seriously and I’m a faithful Catholic, I am,’ Barrett responded during that hearing, ‘although I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge.’

Republicans now believe that she performed well in her defense during this hearing, leaving her potentially capable of doing the same if facing the Senate Judiciary Committee.

She is a former member of the Notre Dame’s ‘Faculty for Life’ and in 2015 signed a letter to the Catholic Church affirming the ‘teachings of the Church as truth.’

Among those teachings were the ‘value of human life from conception to natural death’ and marriage-family values ‘founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman’.

She has previously written that Supreme Court precedents are not sacrosanct. Liberals have taken these comments as a threat to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide.

Barrett wrote that she agrees ‘with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks clearly in conflict with it’.

Among the other statements that have cause concern for liberal are her declaration that ObamaCare’s birth control mandate is ‘grave violation of religious freedom.’

LGBTQ organizations also voiced their concern about her when she was first named on the shortlist.  

She has also sided with Trump on immigration. 

In a case from June 2020, IndyStar reports that she was the sole voice on a three-judge panel that supported allowing federal enforcement of Trump’s public charge immigration law in Illinois, 

The law would have prevented immigrants from getting legal residency in the United States if they rely on public benefits like food stamps or housing vouchers.