ULM Political Science Professor speaks on the future of the United States Supreme Court


MONROE, LA (9/20/20)– The vacant seat on the United States Supreme Court has caused much controversy throughout the country. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second female and first Jewish woman to serve on the court. Some political scholars say filling her shoes will be a tall order.

“So there will be some pressure for Trump to nominate a female Justice and there is talk that a person could come out of Louisiana,” said John W. Sutherlin, ULM Ph.D. political science professor.

At a rally on Saturday, President Donald Trump made an exclusive statement about the supreme court nominee and who could be filling the open spot.

“So we will uphold equal justice under the law for citizens of every race, color, religion, and creed. I will be putting forth a nominee next week. It will be a woman,” said President Donald Trump.

As for Democratic Presidential nominee, Joe Biden, he says voters should pick a president first, and then that president should select a successor to Justice Ginsburg. However, John Sutherlin says this strategy could backfire on Biden.

“Joe Biden will need to put a name out there sooner than later only so that he can help control the narrative a bit better. Otherwise, the unknown factor could play against him. And as long as there is an unknown quantity out there, I think Trump will be able to use this and say “You can expect a very left-leaning justice to come out of Biden,” said Sutherlin.

Dr. Sutherlin says an open seat in the Supreme Court allows republicans to use it as a way to mobilize their base that may have been defected. For democrats, he thinks it’s important for them to say “Do you really want another Trump appointee?” However, Sutherlin says Justices don’t really fit party identifications as Justice Ginsburg was considered a moderate at the beginning of her career and later was viewed to favoring the left.

“The real issue is the way they interpret the Constitution. Is the Constitution a fixed document or is it a living, breathing, growing document. That really is more important than the party identification labels that are oftentimes easy to put on these people,” said Sutherlin.

Sutherlin says Justice Ginsburg was someone who could disagree with others but still come together because of her commitment to the process and Constitution. He says he hopes whoever is appointed to Ginsburg’s seat can strive to be like her.

“That there was a much gentler time in politics where reasonable people could disagree in a professional way,” said Sutherlin.

Dr. Sutherlin says the process of approving a United States Supreme Court Justice has changed over the years as the process used to be basic. He says President Donald Trump will have to nominate someone. Then that person has to be vetted and submitted before the Senate. It is then up to the Senate to either approve or not approve of that nominee.

“That senate ultimately has the final say here because they do no thave to go through the process until a new Senate is elected. So they could literally wait until January, February of next year before they go through this process,” said Sutherlin.

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