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US election: The impact of Barrett’s nomination

Muhammad Sharif Altaf || risingbd.com

Published: 14:06, 19 October 2020   Update: 14:17, 19 October 2020
US election: The impact of Barrett’s nomination

As the day of the US presidential election is drawing closer, the possible outcome is being calculated. Democratic candidate Joe Biden is clearly ahead of Trump in all opinion polls. According to the latest ABC News and Washington Post polls, Trump is 12 percent behind. As predicted by the British magazine The Economist, Joe Biden has a 91 percent chance of winning the November 3 election at the Electoral College. But Trump has refused to promise to hand over power peacefully if he loses the election.

Due to the coronavirus epidemic, a large number of voters are voting in advance this time by post. Trump has therefore vehemently opposed to the post-vote. He has been saying for weeks that the election is going to see voting fraud. The theft will be by post-vote. Democrats have been calling for a vote by post in the name of Corona, the only reason is it will be easy then for voting fraud. One will vote for another, ballot papers will be stolen, and so on.

But most surveys show that there is no evidence of fraud by postal voting. Some observers have suggested that the Democrats would benefit more from the postal voting system. Various black voter groups (especially African-Americans) and young voters are less interested in going to the polls.

Many more voters may be reluctant to go to the polls because of the Corona epidemic. They will vote if they have the opportunity to vote by post. As a result, there is a possibility of more votes against Trump in the election. That’s the reason for Trump’s objection to the postal vote.

A recent scenario has made it possible for Trump to refuse to agree to a peaceful transfer of power. We know Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg died on September 17 in Washington DC. To fill the vacant seat of the Supreme Court on her death, Trump has nominated conservative Federal Court of Appeals justice Amy Connie Barrett. 48 years old Barrett is a popular figure among religious conservatives.

Republican-majority Senate has begun the process of appointing Trump nominee Barrett in a storm. If the appointment is confirmed, Barrett will be the third judge nominated by President Trump in the Supreme Court, increasing the gap between the majority of conservative judges in the US Supreme Court to 6-3.

In that case, Trump can be benefited in this election through it in many ways. This will allow Republicans to attract mainstream conservative voters who, while were disappointed by Trump's reckless speech but have maintained their commitment to conservative positions and values. Again, since Biden is 65 to 34 percent ahead of Trump in terms of female voters, the Trump campaign can hope improving its position by this female justice nomination.

On the contrary, Democrats are hoping the nomination will influence many voters towards Democrats because those who think about the importance of key issues that are likely to come before the court and those who don't accept the hasty nomination process have defined it as an impedance to democracy and highlighted the pretense of the GOP. Because Republicans could take advantage of important Supreme Court decisions of some key issues for decades to come.

A case is set to be heard in the Supreme Court on November 10 to overturn the Affordable Care Act or Obama Care. Democrats say the outcome of the case will be affected if Amy Barrett's nomination as a conservative judge is finalized. Besides the Supreme Court's interpretation may change drastically in the coming days for different issues like civil rights issues including abortion rights, immigration, firearms rights, homosexuality, same-sex marriage.

If we look at the election event, we can see Trump is already embroiled in controversy over the election. Since Trump has been spreading false propaganda that the postal vote will be ‘fraudulent’, he could have resorted to court on fraud charges if Joe Biden wins at the end of the count. A conservative group called the 'Honest Elections Project' has run to a multi-million dollar campaign against the postal vote. Besides, if the gap between the two candidates in the election results is too small, as in the case of George W. Bush vs. Al Gore in 2000, the matter will go to court. The Supreme Court now has a majority of conservatives. As a result, if they make Trump win, it will come as no surprise.

Therefore, if Barrett is appointed a Supreme Court judge before the election, it will not only be a matter of ideological conservatism, but also a matter of controversy over the outcome of the election. A Democrat senator has wanted to get this promise from Barrett so that she does not take part in any verdict regarding the election results, even if she is appointed as a judge. Barrett, however, made no such assurance. That’s why Barrett's nomination is highly likely to have an impact on the outcome of the election.

But if there is a big gap in the election results and Biden is ahead in not just a majority vote but an Electoral College majority vote, Republicans are expected to lose control of the Senate too. Then both the Senate and the House of Representatives will be occupied by Democrats. As a result, Trump's allegations of vote-rigging and incited violence will not be enough to give him additional benefits. But Trump would seek recourse to the Supreme Court to change any election results because of his privilege of majority of conservative judges in the US Supreme Court. So, it is uncertain right now, what is going to happen dramatically in the election. We would rather wait and see what happens!

(Muhammad Sharif Altaf is currently studying International Relations at University of Dhaka).