The Swearing of Justice Amy Coney Barrett Stirs Up Enthusiasm and Unease
Newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Barrett’s beliefs and her role in future Supreme Court rulings is a cause for controversy across the nation.
The country mourns over Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, who passed away on September 18th, 2020. She is admired for her constant fight for equal rights and for inspiring millions to break barriers through her groundbreaking accomplishments.
With her death came a need for someone to fill her position. On September 26th, according to The White House, President Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate United States circuit judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Justice Ginsburg. The Senate voted 52-48 the next month, which confirmed her nomination.
She officially became the 103rd Supreme Court Justice of the United States on October 27, 2020 – just seven days before the 2020 presidential election on November 3rd.
Justice Barrett is especially significant because of her close proximity to such a momentous election – but its results are still being debated. Although Democratic candidate Joe Biden won by 290 electoral votes versus President Trump’s 232, and by five million popular votes, Trump refuses to concede or stop fundraising. Himself and his supporters believe that he won the election, and are crediting Biden’s victory to voter fraud.
Born in Louisiana in 1972, Justice Barrett is the eldest of seven children and a member of a devout Catholic family. She attended an all-girls Roman Catholic high school, then proceeded to get a Bachelor of Arts degree at Rhodes College.
She then attended Notre Dame Law School, where she was the editor of the Notre Dame Law Review. Justice Barrett graduated with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. While at law school, she met and later married fellow graduate Jesse M. Barrett. They now have seven children, two of which are adopted.
Her career before the Supreme Court consisted of two years as a judicial law clerk and three years at a law firm. She also taught courses on statutory interpretation and constitutional theory as a professor of law at multiple universities.
In terms of beliefs and political views, Justice Barrett is an originalist and a textualist. Being an originalist means that in her rulings, she holds firmly to the meaning of the Constitution at the time of its ratification. As a textualist, Justice Barrett believes that judges should use statutory language consistent with its original meaning.
It is clear that many are most curious about her views on controversial issues such as abortion, LGBTQ+ rights, and immigration.
While Barrett has never ruled directly on abortion, she has openly opposed the issue, as seen when she spoke at two anti-abortion events at University of Notre Dame, and signed anti-abortion advertisements.
Speaking of healthcare, Justice Barrett signed a letter criticizing The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. The Supreme Court is currently working on a case regarding access to health insurance, so the ruling could be influenced by Barrett’s opinion on this subject.
On the widely debated topic of LGBTQ+ rights, the justice has not made a clear statement. Allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community are concerned that her devotion to Catholicism and statement that marriage and family is “founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and woman” is a sign that she will work against rights for same-sex couples, trangender people, etc.
Justice Barrett has quite the history with immigration related cases. For instance, she helped advance one of President Trump’s major immigration policies, which imposed a wealth test on millions of immigrants coming into the U.S. Her 40-page dissent on the case argued that the U.S. has the right to block immigrants who may depend on public assistance in the future.
Based on her previous rulings and opinions on several issues not limited to the ones mentioned here, individuals from both the Republican and Democratic parties have a lot to say about her.
Republicans are largely in support and even admiration of Justice Barrett, feeling that her qualifications, strict interpretation of the Constitution, and alignment with conservative ideologies make her a great justice to have in the Supreme Court, who will help make rulings that are beneficial to the American people.
On the other hand, many Democrats are troubled over Barrett’s new position, worried that she will bring her religion into the court, and vote in favor of rulings that will harm and take away the rights of certain American people. Kamala Harris spoke on this when she said that “The threat to choice is real.” The justice’s goals obviously do not align with Democratic ambitions, making most from the side immediately opposed to her.
During a time of so much controversy and so many changes, it is ever so important to advocate for what you believe in, have open-minded conversations with those who think differently, and seek out factual information. It is unknown what the future of our country holds, but we must hold onto hope and continue to seek out the truth.