Guest Columnist

Iowa law students: SCOTUS confirmation would undermine legitimacy of electoral and legal systems

An expanded version of a letter sent to U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, right, meets with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R
Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, right, meets with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, at the Capitol, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020 in Washington. (Caroline Brehman/Pool via AP)

We are concerned students from the University of Iowa College of Law and Drake University Law School, and we are writing to strongly urge you to oppose consideration of any nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States until after the American people have spoken at the ballot box.

The Supreme Court is the backbone of our legal system. As stakeholders in that system, we feel an obligation to stand up for its legitimacy and neutrality. We take no position on the particular nominee, but believe that the nomination process threatens the legitimacy and neutrality of the Court for three primary reasons:

• First, any consideration of this nomination directly contradicts the promises you made to Iowans. Sen. Ernst, in 2018 you said you would not support an appointment to the court in 2020 due to “precedent set.” Sen. Grassley, in 2016 you refused to consider Merrick Garland’s nomination and said “it’s been standard practice over the last nearly 80 years that Supreme Court nominees are not nominated and confirmed during a presidential election year.”

• Second, rushing to replace the late Justice Ginsburg undermines the legitimacy of our courts. The rule of law in America depends on the public’s trust in our courts as objective and apolitical. This trust is jeopardized by a rushed appointment process that appears to be little more than a political power grab on the eve of a Presidential election.

• Third, this appointment is poisoned by Donald Trump’s admission that he is making this appointment because he thinks the election will be decided by the Supreme Court. If this appointee is confirmed, and the Supreme Court ends up deciding the election, it will undermine the legitimacy of our electoral and legal systems.

We implore you to keep your promises and give Iowans a voice in this critical appointment before the seat is filled.

Bradley Peltin, Chandler Mores, Emily Tosoni, Paul Esker and Zach Grewe at students at the University of Iowa College of Law. Brecklyn Carey, Dustin Coffman and William Rings are students at Drake University Law School. Their letter as co-signed by 168 additional students and faculty at the schools, in their personal capacities.

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