Rachel Malehorn, rachelmalehorn.smugmug.com via AP
Amy Coney Barrett is considered the leading candidate to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the United States Supreme Court.
The 48-year-old judge of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago is one of the favorites of social conservatives. They, and others on the right, view the mother-of-seven’s case as an anti-abortion right and hostile to the affordable care law. If appointed and confirmed, she would be the youngest judge on the Supreme Court and could help reshape law and society for generations to come.
When Judge Anthony Kennedy retired from court in 2018, President Trump ignored Barrett, instead nodding at then-judge Brett Kavanaugh. At the time, Trump told Barrett’s supporters he was “saving” her to occupy the Ginsburg headquarters, if justice were to retire or die, sources said.
Behind the scenes, however, Barrett’s interview with Trump at the time did not go particularly well, according to sources familiar with the process but who are not authorized to speak publicly. She had conjunctivitis, had to wear dark glasses during the interview and was “not at her best,” as a source said.
But this week, Barrett’s interview seems to have gone much better. Additionally, according to these sources, she has the backing of Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Who views her as a judge with a clearly proven Tory record.
So who is Barrett and what kind of judge would she be?
Raised in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans, Barrett’s father, Mike, was a lawyer for Shell Oil and his mother was a stay-at-home mom. Barrett attended St. Mary’s Dominican High School for girls, then graduated with honors from Rhodes College, a Presbyterian affiliate school in Tennessee, followed by graduation, summa cum laude, of the Faculty of Law of Notre Dame.
She was commissioned for the late conservative judge Antonin Scalia, and during her internship she was nicknamed “The Conenator” by her fellow lawyers “for destroying fragile legal arguments,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
After that Barrett briefly practiced law, then taught for 15 years at Notre Dame Law School in South Bend, Ind.
She is married to Jesse Barrett, a former prosecutor now in private practice, and the couple have seven children, one with Down’s syndrome and two adoptees from Haiti. They live in South Bend, and she travels to Chicago – nearly an hour and 45 minutes away – where the appeals court sits.
Barrett has been a federal judge for three years. She wrote about 100 opinions and “several telling dissent in which Barrett showed his clear and consistent Conservative bent,” the Associated Press notes of her criminal record.
From guns and sexual assault on campus to healthcare and abortion rights, Barrett has been a conservative jurist and legal thinker in her academic decisions and writings.
“The dogma lives loudly in you”
Barrett’s confirmation hearing in the Court of Appeals in 2017 raised hackles right and left.
The left saw Barrett as a socially conservative mirror image of Scalia, famous for his conservative approach to constitutional interpretation and his passionate dissent from High Court rulings on abortion and gay rights. Barrett, like Scalia, is considered an “originalist” or “textualist”. It is a philosophy that looks strictly at the text of the constitution or statute and tries to apply the original intention of the drafters.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, in particular, infuriated Republicans when she ticked off a list of the candidate’s writings and speeches on faith and the law.
“The dogma lives on in you loudly, and it’s worrying,” Feinstein told the candidate.
Barrett replied, “If you ask me if I take my Catholic faith seriously, I do, although I stress that my personal church affiliation or religious belief would not relate to the performance of my duties as a judge. . “
Barrett is a member of a particularly conservative Christian religious group, People of Praise. Newsweek reported that the group “teaches that husbands should assume authority as the head of the family.” (Her parents are also members, and her father was a coordinator of the group’s southern chapters.)
the New York Times reported that People of Praise “grew out of the Catholic charismatic renewal movement that began in the late 1960s and adopted Pentecostal practices such as speaking in tongues, belief in prophecy, and divine healing.”
Republicans accused Feinstein’s issue of betraying an anti-Catholic bias, and Barrett was upheld by a 55-to-43 vote, with three Democrats voting in favor and two not voting.
If appointed and confirmed to the Supreme Court, Barrett would be the sixth Catholic judge. All except Sonia Sotomayor were nominated by Republican presidents. A seventh, Judge Neil Gorsuch, was raised a Catholic, but now presents himself as an Episcopalian. Two other judges – Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan – are Jewish.
She criticized Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision on abortion of 1973, but in 2016 she suggested that the court would most likely evade the decision, leaving the basic right to abortion in place, but giving states a wide latitude to render abortion difficult to obtain.
“I don’t think the main case, Roe’s arguing that women have the right to have an abortion, I don’t think that would change, “Barrett said in a discussion at Jacksonville University.” But I think the question of whether people can get abortions very late, you know, how many restrictions can be placed on clinics, I think that will change. “
However, that was before Trump’s election and the composition of the Court shifted more sharply to the right, making the outright overthrow of Roe deer more plausible.
Likewise, Obamacare’s future could be on the line with Barrett’s appointment. The court is due to hear a third challenge to the law the week after the election. The court has twice upheld much of the law, but that could change now, with Barrett’s vote being key.
Indeed, she criticized the reasoning of Chief Justice John Roberts in upholding the Affordable Care Act.
“Chief Justice Roberts has pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the law,” Barrett wrote in 2017. “He interpreted the penalty imposed on people without health insurance as a tax, this which enabled him to maintain the law as a valid exercise. the power of taxation; if he had treated the payment as the statute did – as a sanction – he should have invalidated the statute as being beyond the commercial power of Congress. “
In his scholarly work, Barrett wrote with contempt on the Supreme Court’s respect for precedent doctrine, known as the watch decisis.
“I tend to agree with those who say that a judge’s duty is to the Constitution and therefore it is more legitimate for her to uphold her better understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent than it is. ‘she clearly thinks in conflict with her,’ she wrote in a 2013 law review article.
Patrick Semansky / AP
While on the 7th Circuit, Barrett wrote that the Second Amendment did not necessarily prohibit those convicted of felonies from owning a firearm. She said Wisconsin law, prohibiting anyone convicted of a crime even if not convicted of a violent crime, from being unconstitutional.
“[L]Legislatures have the power to prohibit dangerous people from owning firearms. But this power only extends to people who are dangerousBarrett wrote in a 37-page dissent.
His confidence in originalism also emerged a few lines later: “In 1791 – and for well over a century after – legislatures disqualified categories of people from the right to bear arms only when they deemed it to be. necessary to protect public safety. “
Sexual assault on campus
In 2019, Barrett wrote a review in a college sexual assault case, Doe v. Purdue University, “which allowed a student accused of sexual assault to prosecute for alleged violations of the 14th Amendment and Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments,” the American Bar Association Journal wrote.
Barrett disagreed with a 7th Circuit ruling that blocked the Trump administration’s ability to enforce its “public charge rule” in Illinois. The administration’s change to this rule “adds barriers for immigrants seeking green cards if they rely on public benefits, food stamps or housing vouchers,” the Courthouse News Service reported.
Barrett wrote that the Department of Homeland Security’s definition is not “unreasonable,” especially given the “text of the current law … was amended in 1996 to increase the weight of public charge determination.”