In today's recap of The Handmaid’s Tale—I mean in United States politics, President Donald Trump named his nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom Trump described as a "legal giant" and "pioneer for women," on Saturday: Amy Coney Barrett, a judge Trump interviewed in 2018 for a nomination he then gave to Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Pause for quick reminder that RBG’s own wishes was that she not to be replaced until after the election.
Addressing a largely unmasked crowd in the White House Rose Garden, Trump called Barrett one of the "most brilliant and gifted legal minds," and a woman of "unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials, and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution." He also noted that, if confirmed, Barrett would be the first mother of school-aged children to ever serve on the Supreme Court. Trump also joked that he was sure the confirmation process would be easy and quick and "extremely noncontroversial."
Previously, Trump told the press that his choice to replace RBG would “be a woman, a very talented, very brilliant woman.” No doubt, Trump was enticed by Barrett's popularity in the federalist and conservative legal communities. Here’s all you need to know about the potential pick.
So, who is Amy Coney Barrett?
Amy Coney Barrett is Trump‘s nominee to replace RBG on the Supreme Court. According to Axios, Trump had frequently said that he’s “saving” Amy Coney Barrret “for Ginsburg.” Trump himself nominated her as a federal judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Previously, Barrett was a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and a clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. (Members of Scalia's family attended Saturday's nomination announcement.) Allegedly, Trump met with Coney Barrett this week and gave officials the impression that he is “completely sold on her.” If confirmed, Barrett would be the youngest Supreme Court Justice at 48 years old.
What are her views?
Her decisions lean pretty conservative. As a judge, Barrett has proven to be an originalist (aka someone who interprets the Constitution as it was written by the old dudes back in the 1700s. This is a popular perspective among conservatives).
Her stances on immigration, reproductive rights, and gun violence have made her unfavorable among Democrats and liberal advocates. Planned Parenthood was top among those who opposed her 2017 judicial confirmation nomination due to her continued disapproval of Roe v. Wade.
Barrett has also supported one of Trump’s proposed policies that would block green card applicants from applying for any public assistance, maintaining an anti-immigration stance throughout her time as a judge.
In 2018, Barrett referred to an Indiana abortion regulation that made it illegal for physicians to perform an abortion on the basis of race, sex, or disability of the fetus as a “eugenics statute.” In 2012, she supported the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s opposition of Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
She is also quite conservative on issues of gun safety. In 2019, she dissented a majority ruling on a Second Amendment challenge from a man who was prohibited from possessing firearms after he was found guilty of felony mail fraud. Barrett wrote in Kanter v. Barr that “founding legislatures did not strip felons of the right to bear arms simply because of their status as felons.”
Who’s Into Barrett?
Well, allegedly, Trump himself. According to CNN, Trump’s meeting with Barrett left him “high spirits.”
Barrett is also viewed extremely favorably by religious conservatives due to her lifelong commitment to the Catholic church. Many have compared her views on the law to those of the late Antonin Scalia, who was somewhat of a conservative icon.
Although she has yet to be nominated, it’s safe to assume that the GOP would push to vote to confirm her position quickly. After RBG’s death, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said, “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.” And so far, most Republican senators agree with him.
Who’s wary of her?
Liberals. Democrats. Reproductive rights advocates.
A public statement released by democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris following Saturday's announcement read, in part:
“From day one, President Trump made clear that he had a litmus test for Supreme Court Justices – destroy the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with preexisting conditions and overturn our right to make our own health care decisions."
Even though she has said that judges “shouldn’t follow their follow their personal convictions in the decision of a case,” many fear that her anti-choice beliefs would affect rulings in relation to reproductive rights. During her time at Notre Dame, she signed a 2015 letter to Catholic bishops that affirmed the “value of human life from conception to natural death.”
Some skeptics are also concerned by a 2017 New York Times article that said Barrett was part of a religious group called People of Praise, which reportedly required its most devoted members to make a lifelong commitment to the group. Women were also called “handmaids” until pretty recently. (She and the group haven’t confirmed or denied her involvement.)
So, what happens if she's confirmed?
The Court would lean pretty heavily to the right, even more than it already does. But, TBH, that’d be true of any person on Trump’s list. So...that’s where we are.
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