by Jeremy Louis Levine
The most consequential election in recent memory was two years before the 2016 Presidential Election and really signified the beginning of where we find ourselves now as a country. The 2014 midterm elections that brought us a Republican-controlled Senate and Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader has had profound effects on our society, and nowhere more so than the United States Supreme Court.
It began with the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, and President Barack Obama having the constitutional authority to nominate someone to replace Scalia who would then have to be Senate confirmed. Obama nominated Merrick Garland, who is now the Attorney General of the United States, but Garland’s nomination never received a vote, let alone even consideration. Senator McConnell made it clear that he would never allow Obama to appoint another member of the Supreme Court and that the seat would remain vacant throughout the 2016 presidential election. This gamble paid off; Trump won the election despite Robert Mueller stating Trump was never absolved from wrongdoing when it came to Russia and would later go on to appoint Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Two years later, Trump would appoint Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to take Anthony Kennedy’s seat and then in 2020, during another presidential election, Mitch McConnell confirmed another Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, despite refusing to do the same thing four years prior and much closer to the presidential election than Garland’s nomination was in 2016. All three of those judges would later go on in 2022 to overturn Roe v. Wade.
What does this have to do with voting? The 2014 midterm elections had the lowest voter turnout in over 70 years with only 36.4% of eligible voters participating. That was also roughly five percent less than the 2010 midterms, which resulted in the Republican Party capturing the majority of seats in the House of Representatives. President Obama only had a Democratic majority in both chambers of Congress for two out of his eight years as President but losing the Senate in 2014 has had profound consequences that have extended well beyond his presidency.
The majority of voters did not wish to have a Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, but the majority allowed the minority to do so because it decided not to vote in 2014, which resulted in the minority becoming the majority on the matter.
Your vote matters.
Vote this Tuesday, November 8, 2022!