But then in the presidential debate, Chris Wallace asked a simple question on the subject of the 2020 election. He asked Donald Trump, “And are you counting on the Supreme Court, including a Justice Barrett, to settle any dispute?”
Trump pushed Barrett right into the trap. “Yeah,” he replied, “I think I’m counting on them to look at the ballots, definitely. I hope we don’t need them, in terms of the election itself. But for the ballots, I think so, because what’s happening is incredible.”
This puts Barrett in a very awkward position. Barrett will ably try to parry away any questions on this, but the fact is that Democrats are going to put her on the record about whether she should recuse herself from any pending 2020 election-year cases. If her answers make it sound like she is against recusal, she will be portrayed as corrupt. If her answers make it sound like she is pre-committing to recusal, it will shake Republicans up.
Worse, of course, the large party at the White House, thrown to celebrate her nomination, is likely to have played a role in the spread of coronavirus to senior members of the White House staff, including the president and some of his closest aides. The Trump team’s failure to practice adequate social distancing does not fall on her. But it allows Democrats to portray her nomination as in some way poisoned by and reflective of Trump’s irresponsibility.