'In a normal world, there would be no question about it,' said Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he has no qualms about fighting the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
He's repeatedly undermined the legitimacy of mail-in voting, a necessary precaution to curb the spread of coronavirus. "The big Unsolicited Ballot States should give it up NOW, before it is too late, and ask people to go to the Polling Booths and, like always before, VOTE," Trump tweeted earlier this month. "Otherwise, MAYHEM!!! Solicited Ballots (absentee) are OK."
Critics worry that Trump plans to take a contested election to the Supreme Court, where his nominee to fill the seat made vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Amy Coney Barrett — if confirmed — may swing the election in his favor. That's led Democrats to demand that Barrett affirm she would recuse herself from weighing in on the results of the election.
So far, Barrett has refused to promise not to get involved in an election decision. In responses on a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire obtained by Politico, Barrett says she would recuse herself from any case involving her sister or husband. She also pledged not to rule in decisions tied to the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches. But there's no mention of a potential case involving the upcoming election.
Trump has continued his campaign to get the election results tossed to the court. He has tried to break public trust in the United States Postal Service. He's promoted conspiracy theories about voter fraud. And during the presidential debate on Tuesday, he all but conceded he was unwilling to admit defeat if there are claims of the voting irregularities he's already claimed will occur.
"I'm urging supporters to go into the poll and watch very carefully," Trump said. "If it's a fair election, I'm 100% on board. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can't go along with that."
Democrats were quick to criticize Barrett's refusal to commit to recusal. "The underlying fault here is with the timing, which makes it a sham, but certainly she should recuse herself. In a normal world, there would be no question about it," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
Republicans, meanwhile, have unequivocally dismissed the Democrats' demand. "There is no legal disqualification," Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Lindsey Graham told Politico. "She doesn't have a legal conflict. She doesn't decide the election. She's just a vote like everybody else. That's a ridiculous idea that she can't hear election claims because she was nominated in an election year."
In the ruling in the case of Bush v. Gore that effectively decided the outcome of the 2000 presidential election, the Supreme Court voted in favor of the Republican ticket. Barrett's mentor, Justice Antonin Scalia, helped tip the election to George W. Bush.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.