On Saturday, Sept. 26, President Donald Trump announced that he would be nominating Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Barrett would be the third justice appointed to the Supreme Court by President Trump during his term.
This nomination has sparked a partisan battle due to the nomination coming just 38 days before the election. This is similar to the controversy that surrounded President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland eight months before the 2016 election. In the days following the nomination, Democrats have been very critical of President Trump’s decision.
“Which precedent do you really believe in?” Democratic New Jersey senator Cory Booker asked of Republicans. “Because you can’t say one thing and then do another. Barack Obama was putting up a nominee 269 days before an election and now we see Donald Trump doing it while people are voting in the midst of an election.”
While Garland was blocked by the Republican-led Senate then, it appears that this will not be the case for Barrett.
“We can slow it down, perhaps a matter of hours, maybe days at the most. But we can’t stop the outcome,” Illinois Democratic senator Dick Durbin said of the nomination. The Supreme Court confirmation hearing is set for Oct. 12 although the spread of positive COVID-19 cases among the Senate Judiciary Committee may delay the hearing.
This is not the first time that Barrett was considered for a seat in the Supreme Court. She was near the top of President Trump’s list of candidates to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2019, but Trump stated that he was “saving her” for Ginsburg’s seat.
Barrett went to law school at Notre Dame where she graduated summa cum laude in 1997 and received the Hoynes Prize, the school’s highest honor, as the top student in her class.
Not long after graduating, Barrett worked as a clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia and was quick to align herself with Scalia’s conservative approach to the law saying, “his judicial philosophy is mine too.”
In regards to that philosophy, Barrett would consider herself an originalist. More specifically, she is an original public meaning originalist. “Courts ought to interpret with an eye towards current norms, push the country forward with an evolving idea of norms,” Barrett said when discussing the different types of originalism.
It is also well documented that Barrett is strongly against abortion. She signed a joint letter in 2015 that said: “the value of human life from conception to natural death… and marriage and family founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman – provide a sure guide to the Christian life, promote women’s flourishing, and serve to protect the poor and most vulnerable among us.”
Barrett also criticized Roe v. Wade as “creating through judicial fiat a framework of abortion on demand.” If appointed, many people worry about the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned.
Barrett was a popular pick among conservatives for a seat on the Supreme Court partially because of her close affiliation with the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and his views.
“She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials, and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution,” Trump said of Barrett during the announcement ceremony at the White House.
Assuming that Barrett is appointed to the Supreme Court, the landscape of the court would shift even further to the right. Republican judges would outnumber Democratic judges six to three which could also influence the decisions of the Chief Justice.
As of the time of publishing, the Senate hearings are set for Oct. 12.