In the days before Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent death on September 18, the 87-year-old dictated a statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera which read “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Despite this, Donald Trump within days of Ginsberg’s death, announced Amy Coney Barrett as his pick to replace the former Supreme Justice.
If alarm bells had not already begun to ring, the death knell certainly should have begun to sound when President Trump recently described her as “a woman of remarkable intellect and character,” saying he had ‘studied’ her record closely before making the pick.
If successful, Barrett would be the sixth justice on the nine-member court to be appointed by a Republican president, and the third of Trump’s first term in office.
As a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett was in 2017 nominated to the position by President Donald Trump whom has previously considered her for a High Court seat. While Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a champion for LGBTQI equality and the rights of women and minorities, Amy Coney Barrett’s history tells of an opposing story based on both conservative and anti-LGBTQI ideology.
On numerous occasions Barrett, a member of conservative church group People Of Praise and mother to seven children, has come under fire for her pro-life stance on abortion. In reference to the 1973 Supreme court case Roe v. Wade Barrett implied that the Supreme Court likely wouldn’t overturn the overall decision on Roe, however, also went to say;
“I don’t think the core case, Roe’s core holding that women have a right to an abortion, I don’t think that would change. But I think the question of whether people can get very late-term abortions, you know, how many restrictions can be put on clinics, I think that will change.”
She went on to describe it as “an erroneous decision,” that might be ripe for reconsideration by the Supreme Court. If this were to come up for reconsideration, one thing both her supporters and opponents can I agree on is that Barrett would vote no to Roe.
More concerning is that People Of Praise, as a church group emphasise strict gender roles, and for a time labelled women as “handmaids.” A fact that has led some Barrett critics to tie her faith practice to the dystopian world as depicted in Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale.
At the time of Barrett’s nomination to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, a number of individuals expressed similar concerns around Barrett’s ability, lest desire, to separate church from state. Concerns, which were expressed perhaps no better than by Sarah Barringer Gordon, a professor of constitutional law and history at the University of Pennsylvania, who told The New York Times that such loyalty pledges could raise concerns, because such groups can make it “difficult for a person to retain individual judgment.”
When the American Supreme Court handed down its land mark ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, a case which was the foundation for the US State bans on same sex marriage being overturned. Barrett in stark contrast to her predecessor Ruth Bader Ginsburg went so far as to publicly defend the dissenting opinion.
“[Chief Justice Roberts, in his dissent,] said, those who want same-sex marriage, you have every right to lobby in State legislatures to make that happen, but the dissent’s view was that it wasn’t for the court to decide… So I think Obergefell, and what we’re talking about for the future of the court, it’s really a who decides question.”
“When Title IX was enacted, it’s pretty clear that no one, including the Congress that enacted that statute, would have dreamed of that result, at that time. Maybe things have changed so that we should change Title IX, maybe those arguing in favour of this kind of transgender bathroom access are right. That’s a public policy debate to have. But it does seem to strain the text of the statute to say that Title IX demands it.” Barrett said in response.
Adding insult to injury Barrett on numerous occasions has misgendered transgender students who have claimed Title IX protections, referring to such individuals as “someone who was physiologically a boy but identifying as a girl.”
If Barrett is to set to replace Ruth Batter Ginsburg as Supreme Court Justice it will give the conservative vote a 6-3 majority. Paving the way for years of progressive reform to be not only damaged in part, but wound back in full.
Responding to the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett as President Trump’s nominee to the United States Supreme Court Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign – America’s largest LGBTQI civil rights organisation said;
“While people are suffering across the country, instead of offering aid, Trump and McConnell are rushing through a Supreme Court justice – a justice who could deal a fatal blow to people maintaining their basic health care in the middle of a pandemic. The President has dramatically altered the judiciary to try to dismantle hard-fought rights and progress secured over decades – LGBTQ rights, voting rights, reproductive rights and more.
“If she is nominated and confirmed, Coney Barrett would work to dismantle all that Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought for during her extraordinary career. An appointment of this magnitude must be made by the President inaugurated in January. The Human Rights Campaign fervently opposes Coney Barrett’s nomination, and this sham process.”
With only 37 days before the November 3 election, Senate Majority Leader Mitchell McConnell, a Republican, has vowed to push forward with Trump’s pick. With only two Republicans having confirmed they will not vote the Democrats are still only halfway to achieving the four-vote defection needed to block Barrett’s nomination.
Either way, America is in for a white knuckled ride as they head to the polls this November. We can only hope that Barrett’s nomination does not remain as the final, remaining legacy of Trump’s chaotic presidency.