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Monmouth Univ. Poll: Voters Split on Filling SCOTUS Seat



Supreme Court

A narrow majority of voters are against the effort of President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Senate to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat before Election Day, a new Monmouth University poll shows.

When asked about this specific seat on the court, 51 percent of voters opposed the move while 46 percent approved, Monday’s poll said. Though, voters are more split as to whether the Senate should, in general, appoint a Supreme Court justice right before a presidential election. Fifty-three percent of voters, however, believe that the Senate should nonetheless hold appointment hearings for President Trump’s nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, while 43 percent are against this.

This poll presents a stark contrast to voters’ feelings in March 2016 about replacing the seat of the conservative Justice Antonin Scalia after his passing with then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. According to a March 2016 Monmouth poll, “a full 69% of the public feel the Senate should hold hearings on the nomination [of Garland],” while “just 25% say that the Senate should not consider the nomination.”

The report added that: “Majorities of Democrats (85%), independents (66%), and Republicans (56%) alike say that Garland should get a hearing.”

Additionally, a massive reversal has occurred in how the two major parties’ voters feel today versus in 2016. According to Monday’s poll, “83% of Republicans say such a nomination should move forward today, although only 36% of GOP voters felt this way a little over four years ago when Barack Obama was president,” and that, “Likewise, just 16% of Democrats approve of considering a nominee now even though 74% felt that way in 2016.”

“Among independents,” says the poll, “48% say a nomination late in the president’s term should be considered, although this number is somewhat lower than independents felt four years ago (60%).”

While the survey was conducted before the president announced his Supreme Court nominee on Saturday, there was a general feeling in Washington that Judge Amy Coney Barret would ultimately be his pick for the land’s highest court. Thus the survey questioned voters about the then-likely nominee.

When asked about “their sense of the ideological views of Judge Amy Coney Barrett,” 49 percent of voters “think she is more of a conservative and only 5% think she is more of a moderate, while another 44% say they haven’t heard enough about her.”

With regards to Republican and Democratic voters, the poll found that 50 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats see Barrett as “conservative.” This compares to 2016, “when 25 percent of voters thought [Garland] was more of a moderate and just 12 percent thought he was more of a liberal, while 60 percent had not heard enough to judge,” according to the aforementioned March 2016 poll.

With Barrett only being 48 years old, her appointment to the Supreme Court would give conservatives a long-time advantage in the court’s rulings, since Supreme Court justices serve lifetime appointments. This will be the third conservative that Trump will have placed on the court, following the appointments of Judge Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Judge Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

With rising uncertainty about if the results will be contested, many are speculating that the upcoming presidential election might end up being decided again by the Supreme Court, just as it did in the 2000 election in the case Bush v. Gore. Thus there is a heightened urgency to place a ninth justice on the court in case the current eight justices are split fifty-fifty in deciding such a hypothetical case.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing for Barrett is expected to be held the week of October 12, CNN reports, according to multiple sources close to the planning of the hearing. This, according to them, means that the confirmation vote of the entire Senate could take place as early as October 29.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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CNN announces controversial presidential debate rules obviously intended to benefit Biden



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CNN announced its several presidential debate rules over the weekend sparking controversy. The rules will govern the upcoming debate between former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden on June 27. A

After Trump publicly stated he would debate the president “any time and any where” the Biden campaign agreed to a total of two debates that would be closely regulated. Not only did the administration demand a ban on audiences, it also approved CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash as its moderators. Breitbart reports Tapper is one of Trump’s sharpest critics.

CNN announced its own additional parameters on Saturday, which likely were done in partnership with the White House:

  • Two commercial breaks (Likely to benefit Biden)
  • Campaign staff will not be able to interact with their candidate during the break
  • No opening statements, two-minute closing statements
  • Two-minute answer shot clock, one minute for rebuttals
  • Mics will be muted “except for the candidate whose turn it is to speak” (Likely to benefit Biden)

CNN reported its rules:

The 90-minute debate will include two commercial breaks, according to the network, and campaign staff may not interact with their candidate during that time. Both candidates agreed to appear at a uniform podium, and their podium positions will be determined by a coin flip.

Microphones will be muted throughout the debate except for the candidate whose turn it is to speak. While no props or pre-written notes will be allowed on the stage, candidates will be given a pen, a pad of paper and a bottle of water.

Some aspects of the debate – including the absence of a studio audience – will be a departure from previous debates. But, as in the past, the moderators “will use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion,” according to the network.

Breitbart reports that the President is planning to spend about a week preparing to debate Trump who has also requested Biden receive a drug test before the debates. The White House did not respond in May as to whether Biden intends to use performance-enhancing drugs in preparation for the presidential debates.

Ron Klain, Biden’s former chief of staff who is going on vacation to help Biden prepare for the debates, did not respond to Politico Playbook’s request for comment about “whether any illegal substances are used as part of Klain’s debate prep.”

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