SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — After President Donald Trump officially announced his nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court, South Dakota leaders showed their support. U.S. Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds both released statements applauding Trump for his nomination.
Thune, the second-ranking Republican of the Senate, sat down with KELOLAND News Sunday to further discuss the nomination.
Thune says Barrett is a great pick for the vacant Supreme Court seat.
“Outstanding qualifications. Number one in her class at Notre Dame Law School, clerk for Antonin Scalia — Justice Scalia on the Court — and says that she sort of has the same judicial philosophy as he had, which is welcome news to a lot of us who were big Scalia fans,” Thune said.
He says Barrett is a constitutionalist.
“Somebody who will take the law and the Constitution and apply it as written in an impartial way. And that, to me, is what the roll of a Supreme Court Justice should be,” Thune said.
If confirmed, Barrett would push the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to 6-3. However, Thune believes she would be an independent mind on the Court.
“I think that her job, again, is not going to be to try and influence and basically be a politician in a robe. That’s not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for someone who will apply the law, the Constitution precedent, do it in an impartial way and I think she’s going to bring that kind of philosophy to the Court,” Thune said.
An election year vacancy
Barrett would fill the seat vacated by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served on the Supreme Court for 27 years. Ginsburg was seen as a liberal icon advocating for gender equality throughout her career.
“Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer on the Court and I’m glad that the President selected a female jurist to replace her and someone who has the same sort of kind of intellect. I think Amy Coney Barrett intellectually has just superb qualifications. I think she was a stellar pick on that basis. But in terms of judicial philosophy, it does represent sort of a different point of view,” Thune said.
In 2016, Thune was against nominating a Supreme Court Justice during an election year. This year, he’d like to see the nomination confirmed by Election Day. He tells us the circumstances are different now, saying that back in 2016 the White House had a Democratic occupant while the Senate had a Republican majority.
“If you look at historical precedent, it all moves in one direction. That direction is when there’s a presidency and a Senate that is controlled by the same party, eight times in history that’s happened, where there’s been a vacancy in a presidential election year and those conditions are in place. Seven of those eight times, that individual’s been confirmed to the Court. On the other hand, the other precedent is also true. If you have a presidency that’s in the control of one party and the Senate control of the other, the last time that somebody was confirmed to the Court when that was the case was 1888,” Thune said.
“That’s why you work so hard to get a majority in the Senate, that’s why people work so hard to elect their president to office. It’s for important times like this. This is one of the reasons I ran for office in the first place. It’s for important moments like this where you have an opportunity to do something that is inter-generational. A Supreme Court nomination, these are lifetime appointments. I always say that politicians come and politicians go, but the Supreme Court, those are lifetime appointments so they have an inter-generational impact. It’s one of the most consequential things that we do,” Thune said.
The next steps
Thune says later this week he will have a one-on-one meeting with Judge Barrett.
“Obviously as the whip in the Senate, I am responsible for trying to make sure that we have the votes and I think we have good, I would say right now, from our members, support for moving forward. Obviously everybody wants to see and make sure that it’s a fair process. If there’s due consideration of her qualifications or her temperament, her philosophy, all those sorts of things and those will be the kinds of things I’ll be looking for over the course of the confirmation process as well,” Thune said.
As America watches Barrett’s hearings and the confirmation process, Thune says he hopes people can see her qualifications.
“I think the people will find, as they get to know her, that she is enormously qualified and certainly in terms of not only judicial temperament, but philosophy, the kind of person that can operate in an impartial way and apply the law and the constitution to the facts of the case and rule fairly,” Thune said.