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Press: Trump and GOP are making supreme mistake

No doubt about it. The death of Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgCardinal Dolan hails Supreme Court decision on churches, COVID-19 Cuomo blames new conservative majority for High Court's COVID-19 decision Supreme Court blocks New York coronavirus restrictions on houses of worship MORE is a godsend for the Republican Party. It’s just what President TrumpDonald John TrumpVenezuela judge orders prison time for 6 American oil executives Trump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE needed to come back from the dead. It gives him a chance to tilt the court to the far right for decades, with the nomination of Judge Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettCardinal Dolan hails Supreme Court decision on churches, COVID-19 Cuomo blames new conservative majority for High Court's COVID-19 decision Supreme Court blocks New York coronavirus restrictions on houses of worship MORE to the bench. It energizes the Republican base. It locks up the Catholic vote. And, most importantly, it changes the subject! Nobody will talk about the coronavirus anymore. From now on, all they’ll talk about is getting Barrett confirmed before Nov. 3.

That’s what Trump believes. That’s what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAs Biden administration ramps up, Trump legal effort drags on Harris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE (R-Ky.) and 50 Republican senators believe. And, judging from press reports, that’s what the majority of the mainstream media believe. And they are all dead wrong.

Just watch. The battle over confirmation of Barrett will backfire against Trump and Senate Republicans and prove to be a godsend to Democrats, not Republicans. For several reasons.

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First, why does Trump think this battle will energize his followers? His base is already energized. They don’t need a Supreme Court battle. Besides, if the vote’s already over by Nov. 3, what’s there to get excited about?

In fact, there’s evidence that the controversy over Barrett has excited the Democratic base, instead — especially female voters, who see Barrett, whether she’s a woman or not, as a sure vote against the Affordable Care Act, Roe v. Wade and contraception. Within 36 hours of Ginsburg’s death, the Democratic site ActBlue received a record-shattering $100 million in small donations to the Biden and Democratic Senate campaigns. There was no such outpouring for Republicans.

All of which is bad news for Trump, who’s already trailing Biden badly among women. In the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, taken since Ginsburg’s death, Biden leads Trump among female likely voters by a stunning 65 percent to 34 percent. In that same poll, 57 percent of Americans say the court vacancy should be filled by whoever wins on Nov. 3, not necessarily Trump.

It’s also sheer folly to think that a Supreme Court vacancy is so consequential it’ll overshadow the coronavirus pandemic and Trump’s incompetent and dismissive response to it. More than 204,000 Americans have already died from the disease. Thirty-three states and Puerto Rico reported an increase in cases this past weekend. COVID-19 is not going away, and voters will hold Trump responsible, whether Barrett’s confirmed or not.

Indeed, health care, not abortion, is the strongest argument against Barrett. Within a week after Nov. 3, the Supreme Court will again consider a challenge to the Affordable Care Act which would do away with all provisions of the ACA, including protection for people with preexisting conditions. It’s the worst time to seat a new justice who would vote to take away the only protection most Americans now have against the coronavirus.

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The silliest argument of all is that Barrett’s nomination will lock up the Catholic vote. Really? Sure, she’s a Catholic. So what? There are already five Catholic justices. It’s not like we need another one. And, besides, if Catholics want to vote for a Catholic, they’ve got one in Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation US records 2,300 COVID-19 deaths as pandemic rises with holidays MORE, the most faith-driven, practicing Catholic ever to run for president — and a stark contrast to Trump, who only uses churches for political props.

Yes, Republicans are excited about the court battle, but it’ll come back to haunt them in the end. By making it all about the Supreme Court, by rushing to force a vote on Barrett before Nov. 3, Trump and Republicans are making a supreme mistake.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”