August 5, 2021

Amy Coney Barrett, the Newest Supreme Court Justice.

5 min read

On Monday, October 26th, the United States Senate voted to confirm President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett as the next Supreme Court Justice.  When describing Justice Barrett, President Trump stated, “She is one of the nation’s most brilliant legal scholar, and she will make an outstanding justice on the highest court in the land.”

The Senate’s vote

The result of the vote was 51 for, 48 against, with Vice President Elect, Kamala Harris, not voting on the president’s nominee.  The democrats unanimously voted the nomination down as well as one Republican senator and two senators in the Independent Party.

When the results of the vote were announced on the Senate floor all, but two, Republicans gave a standing ovation.  One of the senators being Senator Susan Collins of Maine who voted “nay.”  After casting her vote, she immediately exited the room.  She stated that her decision to vote President Trump’s nominee down was based on the principle that the no one should be nominated to succeed Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg until after the election.

In 2016, when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away, the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, argued that his successor should not be appointed until a new president is elected and the voices of the American citizens are heard. 

As a result, former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick B. Garland, did not win the majority vote from the Senate.  Ultimately Scalia’s replacement, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, was nominated by Donald Trump after he was sworn in as the 45th president.

However, when it comes to the nomination of Justice Barrett, the Republicans in the senate claim that it is their right as the majority to nominate a new Supreme Court Justice as soon as possible.  Senate Majority Leader Senator McConnell contradicted his previous statement made in 2016. 

On September 18th, the senator tweeted, “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”  He tweeted this statement only hours after the news of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg was released.

Based on the decision that took place four years ago, Senator Collins did not believe that it was just to vote “yay” for a Supreme Court Justice eight days before the Presidential Election.

The other Republican senator to not stand after the vote was announced was Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.  Senator Murkowski, who voted in favor of President Trump’s nomination, sat with a straight face after reversing her decision from “nay” to “yay” a mere two days before the vote.  When explaining her original claim in believing that Justice Barrett should not be appointed to the Supreme Court she stated that “I don’t think that this will help our country become a better version of itself.”  This statement is in reference to appointing a new Supreme Court Justice just over a week from the Presidential Election.

Who is Amy Coney Barrett?

Amy Coney Barrett will be the 115th, and 5th woman, appointed to the Supreme Court.  But who was Barrett before becoming President Trump’s newest Supreme Court Justice nominee?

Barrett lives in South Bend, Indiana with husband Jesse Barrett and their seven children, two who were adopted from Haiti.  Her husband is a former federal prosecutor and now works for a private firm.

Justice Barrett studied at the University of Notre Dame Law School, and graduated top of her class.  She will be the first Supreme Court Justice that did not graduate from either Harvard or Yale.  In 2017, President Trump appointed Justice Barrett to serve as a Federal Appeals Court Judge.

She has spent much of her career as a professor at Notre Dame University.  She has been voted “Professor of the Year” on numerous occasions.  However, after the news of President Trump nominating her as the late Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg’s successor, some of her students had mixed opinions of Barrett become a Supreme Court Justice.

What do Barrett’s previous actions say about how she may vote on the Supreme Court.

Justice Barrett identifies as a Catholic, acknowledging that her faith is a central part of her identity.  However, she claims that her religion does not compromise her work.  In her confirmation hearings she pledged that she would vote on the court with an independent mind.

After graduating from Notre Dame University, Barrett was a clerk to the late Supreme Court Justice Scalia.  Barrett’s views noticeably emulate those of Scalia’s, who leaned towards the conservative side while on the Supreme Court.  When describing Justice Scalia, Barrett labeled him as a “staunchest conservative.”

As well as her mentor, Barrett is an originalist.  An originalist is someone who interprets what was written in the Constitution, in 1787, as the authors intended it to be interpreted.  Most liberals object the mindset of originalists claiming that it is too strict of an approach and aspects of the Constitution should be challenged and altered as time progresses.

In the past Justice Barrett has criticized Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. for voting to uphold the Affordable Care Act.  She also once called for the overturn of Roe v. Wade claiming that the case had a “barbaric legacy.”

Justice Barrett has links with the Conservative Christian Group, People of Praise.  Some LGBTQ+ groups have flagged the group for teaching that sexual relations should only take place between a married man and woman. 

The Human Rights Campaign has called Barrett an “absolute threat to LGBTQ rights.”

With numerous cases quickly approaching their hearing dates on the Supreme Court.  Justice Barrett will be voting on cases regarding the Affordable Care Act, President Trump’s immigration plans, the rights of gay marriage, etc.  If Barrett follows in the footsteps of Justice Scalia, she will ultimately vote conservatively majority, if not all, of these issues.

Being the youngest of all the sitting Justices, Justice Barrett could serve on the Supreme Court for numerous decades to come.  Her voting can influence and change the nation’s way off life regarding the rights to health care, abortion, voting, and guns.

What does this mean for generations to come?

For the first time in 151 years, a Supreme Court Justice nominee was approved without receiving a single vote from the minority party.  The choice to approve President Trump’s immediate nomination of Justice Barrett shows that the Republican party did not give any impression that they would follow the late Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg’s dying wish.

Just before passing away earlier this year on September 18th.  Justice Ginsberg told her granddaughter that it was her last dying wish that her seat on the Supreme Court remain empty until the end of the presidential election.  Justice Barret was approved by the senate only six weeks later.

The Republican party contradicting their prior belief from 2016 may end up hindering them more then helping them in the future.  Democratic Minority leader, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York stated “You may win this vote, and Amy Coney Barrett may become the next associate justice of the Supreme Court, but you will never, never get your credibility back. And the next time the American people give Democrats a majority in this chamber, you will have forfeited the right to tell us how to run that majority.”

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