Hello there! Not sure if you know this already, but there's a PRETTY BIG election happening in the US a little over a month from now on Nov. 3, 2020. Your vote will help decide who's going to be President for the next 4–8 years, NBD.
But I'm here to tell you that you aren't just voting for who you think should be President for the next four years — you're also voting for their Supreme Court justice picks.
Alrighty, let's back up for a sec! First things first: What is the Supreme Court?
The Supreme Court is the judicial branch of the US government and the highest court in the United States. It consists of one chief justice and eight associate justices for a total of nine positions. No more, no less!
Basically, the whole point of the Supreme Court is to act as a "guardian and interpreter" of the US Constitution. This means it has the ability to hear appeal cases related to the Constitution and strike down any laws it decides are unconstitutional. And tbh, those decisions have a pretty big effect on our daily lives. A prime example is when the Supreme Court (finally) made it illegal for states to ban same-sex marriage in 2015.
Supreme Court justices are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, meaning the Senate votes on whether they should serve on the court. When that's all said and done, they're officially appointed by the president, and once they're a bonafide member of the Supreme Court, they can serve as long as they choose and can only be removed via impeachment. This means that Supreme Court justices can (and most often do) serve for literally the rest of their lives.
I don't know about you, but an indeterminate amount of decades seems like a preeeeetty long time for someone to be ruling on federal laws and policies that will shape our lives and country for years to come.* AKA, the stakes are high.
Now, you might be wondering: How much can my vote in the 2020 election really have an effect on all this? Well, let's look at a few examples:
Since being sworn into office, President Trump and his administration have nominated and appointed two Supreme Court justices and are currently looking to nominate and appoint a third (more on that later), which would be the most justices appointed in one term in at least 30 years.
Trump's first appointee, Neil Gorsuch, is most known for his time on the US Court of Appeals, when he infamously ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby refusing to provide its employees with birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, despite it being a requirement under the Affordable Care Act.
Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's second appointee, is most known for the 2018 Senate Judiciary hearing held before his swearing in, which centered around sexual assault allegations made against him by psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford. This led to an FBI investigation in which another woman also came forward with claims of sexual misconduct.
Which brings us to right here, right now. In case you hadn't heard, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a longtime Supreme Court justice and champion of gender equality, recently passed away at the age of 87, leaving a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Trump and his administration are rushing to fill that vacancy before the election, and he recently nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett has spent only three years on the US Court of Appeals and she's known to be staunchly anti-abortion and holds a number of conservative beliefs surrounding immigration, gun reform, and police brutality.
So, as you can see, how you vote in this year's election has the potential to have a pretty big effect on the Supreme Court and the decisions it makes in the future. Is it guaranteed that there will be another vacancy on the Supreme Court in the next four years? Who knows?! But there's always a chance that at least one of the current justices will be impeached, decide to retire, or tbh, pass away. Half of the them are over the age of 70, so that's not too far-fetched.
All of Trump's picks will be on the Supreme Court long after he's gone, and the next pick made by whoever wins the 2020 election will definitely outlast the next 4–8 years the president is in office.
And with so many important issues at stake this year — like LGBTQ+ rights, racial justice, reproductive rights, the environment, healthcare, and our government's response to COVID-19 — I have a feeling there are going to be some big rulings in the Supreme Court in the near future.
Does all this seem super overwhelming? I feel you! It totally is.
But the good news is you have the ability to make your voice heard! Voting in this year's election lets you take a stance on all of these issues, and your vote matters now more than ever. It literally has the ability to affect our country for years if not decades, and that might seem stressful, but honestly? It's also pretty fucking cool.
The registration deadline is approaching fast, so visit And Still I Vote for resources on becoming a voter! It only takes a few minutes to register. And after you've done that: please, just vote.
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