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The September Surprise

The death of American Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has once again brought to center stage the values division in American society over abortion. In 2016, 52% of American Catholics voted for Donald Trump while 42% supported Hillary Clinton.

In June, 2020, a Pew poll taken after President Trump’s controversial visit to the John Paul II Shrine, found that 31% approved of him, down from 40% in April. President Trump is well aware of the importance of Catholic support and actually values it more than evangelical support.

Indeed, only once since 1972 has a majority of Catholics not voted for the winner of the presidential popular vote…and that was in 2016! And so, President Trump believes that he can regain Catholic support by naming a Supreme Court judge likely to be unfriendly to Roe v Wade.

As of this writing, President Trump has not announced his choice. But at the top of his list are Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa. Barrett, a federal court judge and former professor at Notre Dame, has an academic record which is critical of the legal basis for Roe v Wade.

Lagoa, a Hispanic of Cuban background, is a judge on the Florida Supreme Court who is well known as an “originalist,” a view that the Constitution has a fixed meaning, and would probably view Roe v Wade’s reliance on “the right to privacy” as an intrusion into the Constitution.

Choosing Lagoa would probably also give Trump a boost in Florida’s Hispanic vote and he needs Florida if he is to win; however, choosing Barrett would probably be the more popular choice for conservative voters in general.

Of course, another reason this is an opportunity for Trump is that it offers him the chance to change the channel from his terrible response to COVID and the state of medical care in the U.S.

The temptation for the Democrats in all this is to put too many resources into the fight. The deck is loaded right now in favour of the Republicans’ getting their way. Their best bet is to keep hammering away on these other issues.