By Rylee Seavers | Staff Writer
President Donald Trump announced his nomination for the Supreme Court on Tuesday night: Neil Gorsuch,10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge. The vacancy opened after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. Trump’s policies have many wondering how the Supreme Court will change in relation to the new administration.
Dr. Dave Bridge, associate professor and undergraduate program director in the department of political science believes that as political polarization increases, it is more difficult for elected branches of government to pass legislation.
“One strategy that both parties can use is, instead of trying to pass a law, which you have to go through the House and Senate and get signed by the president, it’s much easier just to say, ‘Well, this is a judicial issue,’ and then the Supreme Court decides the case,” Bridge said.
Bridge studies how the Supreme Court works with the president and Congress. Bridge said that, because of legislative gridlock, more cases in the future may be termed “judicial issues” and the Supreme Court may be deciding on topics that in the past they haven’t decided on. Bridge also said that, judicially, there is a chance that not much will change because conservative justice Scalia will be replaced by another conservative justice, after Gorsuch is confirmed.
“One thing the Supreme Court has to be wary of is not upsetting the dominant coalition,” Bridge said.
Currently the dominant coalition is the conservative movement or Republican party. Congress has the constitutional power to define the power of the court, Bridge said. He also said that Congress has the power to tell the Supreme Court what type of cases they can and cannot hear.
“I guess that plays into the checks and balances of our system,” said Little Rock, Ark., senior and chair of Baylor College Republicans, Sara Grove. all the branches need to make sure that the other doesn’t get out of hand, but not curb the power of the judicial [branch] too much.”
Grove said she would like to see the nominated justice uphold the constitution in a conservative light. Grove’s only concern regarding the nomination is that it is confirmed in a timely manner, and that the process is not delayed by Senate Democrats.
“I’m glad [Democrats] have the right to filibuster, but since we have a Republican Congress and president, I feel like it’s inevitable that we will get a more conservative Supreme Court justice nominee through [the Senate],” Grove said.
Bridge also said that, like all presidents, Trump may seek to increase executive power through the Supreme Court.
“[That] is already seen through the many executive orders he released in the past weeks, especially the controversial ones,” said DeSoto senior and chair of community outreach for Baylor Democrats Mark Toliver. “It’s evident that he is trying to enlarge the executive sphere. It’s sort of like he is implicitly ignoring the existence of the judicial branch.”
Toliver said that he does not believe Senate Democrats should filibuster Trump’s nominee, as Senate Republicans did with Obama’s nominee. He believes that the best solution would be to allow the nominee to be confirmed and allow the court to continue hearing cases as usual.
“I’m pretty sure there is really no hope right now for the Democrats or for anyone concerned with civil rights and civil liberties, especially for minority groups. If I were to hope something, [it would be] that he is at least one who looks upon the Constitution and all the rights that are granted to us,” Toliver said