Amy Coney Barrett should have never been confirmed by the United States Senate.
Earlier this week, the highly controversial Barrett was advanced into the Supreme Court by a narrow vote of 52-48 after the Democrats were unable to stall the decision any longer. Only a single Republican, Senator Susan Collins, voted against her confirmation to the Court; the Dems voted the same in unanimous fashion.
The vacancy left after the somber passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a position that needed to be filled, and as a result, President Donald Trump wasted no time in nominating Barrett, a social conservative powerhouse, to serve as her replacement. Even against Ginsburg’s dying wish to be replaced only after the upcoming election had finished, Barrett faced minimal disturbance throughout the voting process due to the Senate’s Republican majority.
The Democrats have not held back on their criticisms of Justice Barrett’s hasty induction, and rightfully so. Having sworn in a candidate just eight days before the United States federal election, I (and many, many others) cannot help but feel that the decision was unnecessarily rushed. The Supreme Court now holds a 6-3 conservative majority, and little, if anything at all, can be done about it. Many on the left have called to ‘pack the court’, pleading for more seats to be implemented to balance out the dominant, right-leaning ideologies of the reigning justices. Elizabeth Warren, a prominent Democrat, has even gone on record to say that her party will “use every tool they have to undo the damage and restore the court’s integrity”. Although the settlement has already been concluded, a hard-fought battle for change may be in the foreseeable future.
While a balance in political partisanship within the Supreme Court is certainly a valid concern amongst the American people, this is hardly the biggest issue at hand; it is Barrett’s political views and judicial history that should bring about panic. She could very well be a threat to America’s ever-developing progress.
A Glimpse at Amy Coney Barrett
Barrett is undeniably a woman of strength, courage, and displays relentless dedication to her profession and field of work. After graduating at the top of her class from the University of Notre Dame’s law school, she served as a clerk for Judge Laurence Silberman. More notably, she went on to serve as a clerk for the (late) Supreme Court Associate Justice and conservative figure Antonin Scalia. In 2002, she returned to the University of Notre Dame where she resided as a highly respected law professor. Between all the success she has seen throughout her schooling and multi-disciplinary career, there is little doubt in my mind that Amy Coney Barrett was wrongly nominated to fill the position of Ginsburg as a justice.
With this accounted for, there are various factors that, in my eyes, should determine whether someone is suitable to become a Supreme Court Justice rather than solely qualified.
Similar to Justice Scalia, Barrett is an ‘originalist’, meaning she interprets laws and the Constitution based on how they were understood at the time they were written. This philosophy, in itself, can become problematic as the Constitution is largely outdated by some of today’s standards. She has also been extremely open about the role that religion plays in her life and, more specifically, her views on legislation and policy. Her membership in a hyper-Catholic group called People of Praise has been described as “cult-like”, receiving heavy criticism regarding its teachings.
I would not dare scrutinize one’s own personal beliefs and worldviews, but it would be ignorant to claim that these characteristics would play no part in her future rulings within a predominantly conservative Supreme Court. What’s more, many of these qualities would likely revert the social and political progress that Americans have fought so hard for throughout the country’s history — this simply should not and cannot happen.
Her History Tells All
I hate dealing with hypotheticals. It is unfair to merely guess that Justice Barrett would vote against any liberal-leaning policy she is faced with, however, her history has proven to be extremely telling of just that.
Perhaps the most controversial area associated with Barrett concerns her views on abortion. Although she has not directly ruled on abortion cases herself, she has adamantly voted in favor of certain restrictions pertaining to the procedure. Most notably, she has openly stated that although the core of Roe v. Wade would likely stand, restrictions regarding the case would probably be heightened. Barrett is now in a position to implement these restrictions on a woman’s right to an abortion in the United States of America. If Roe v. Wade ever resurfaces in the Supreme Court, she will not hesitate to aid in putting these alterations through.
Justice Barrett will also be present for arguments this week surrounding Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a case debating whether faith-based child welfare agencies and organizations can reject LGBTQ+ families, couples, and others whom they consider to be in direct violation of their religious beliefs. Noting that Barrett has a history of making successful cases against the LGBTQ+ community in favor of religious freedoms, it will be to no one’s surprise if she decides to slowly chip away at their already-endangered rights.
Additionally, with the Affordable Care Act being revisited in the Supreme Court just next month, it is entirely possible that Barrett will vote against it, leaving thousands of Americans without critical healthcare in the midst of a life-threatening pandemic. After all, Trump was determined to strike down the ACA through yet another Republican nominee introduced into the Supreme Court. She has also criticized Chief Justice John Roberts in the past for ruling to uphold the ACA in an earlier Supreme Court decision, making this entire scenario even more plausible than it already was. With Justice Barrett furthering the Republican majority, this unlikely ruling has now become the closest it has ever been to a reality.
America May Be in Trouble
Although I respect Amy Coney Barrett’s lifetime of rigorous work and judicial efforts, her role in furthering a partisan, Republican agenda within the United States Supreme Court will likely hinder or even revert years of hard-earned progress. If America’s fundamental rights begin to crumble at the hand of this new justice, people will not hesitate to protest, revolt, and push for a change in the right direction once again.
I truly want to believe that Justice Barrett will judge independently of her own personal beliefs, but no matter how many times she proclaims a commitment to impartiality, her history will always speak loudest of all — she does not belong in the United States Supreme Court. Only time will tell if all these worries and concerns come to life, but for now, the country will be waiting in agony–on both sides of the political spectrum–before any rulings are made.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and do not reflect the views of Conversationally Speaking Magazine.
Steven is a centrist thinker that heavily values independence, critical reasoning, and open dialogue more than anything. He is currently studying Rhetoric, Media, and Professional Communication at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario. His work generally focuses on social change and the effects that media have on North American society.