Trump’s Nominee to Take Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Seat: Amy Coney Barrett

By Lelani Williamson

President Donald Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett to take recently deceased Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s open seat on the Supreme Court. Trump stated that Barrett is a “woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution.” Barrett, elected by Trump in 2017, is an appeals court judge for the Seventh Circuit. She is also a professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School where she teaches classes on constitutional law, the federal courts, and statutory interpretation. Barrett is a devout Catholic and a proven conservative. In the past, she has served as a clerk for former Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court, and was a previous candidate to fill a seat on the Supreme Court after Justice Anthony Kennedy retired (a seat that went to Justice Brett Kavanaugh). 

In regards to her opinions and interpretations, Barrett is a textualist and originalist. She is pro-life and has been involved with Faculty for Life, Notre Dame’s anti-abortion group. Although she has stated that it is unlikely the ruling of Roe v. Wade would be overturned, critics still believe that she intends to overturn the ruling that legalized abortions. Barrett was also the one person that disagreed with a decision to prohibit a felon from possessing a firearm, stating that “founding legislatures did not strip felons of the right to bear arms simply because of their status as felons.” She also declared that she would not be beholden to the doctrine of stare decisions. This doctrine asks the court to follow the precedents set in similar cases, but she has made it clear that she will “enforce her understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent.” Additionally, Barrett has been involved with organizations such as the American Law Institute and the Federalist Society, which advocate for textualist and originalist interpretations of the United States Constitution.

As a candidate, Barrett has been met with both support and disapproval. Feminists and the community of Democrats are making it clear that they don’t want Amy Coney Barret to replace women’s right activist and liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Women all around the world view Ginsburg as a “feminist icon,” leaving the person chosen to take her seat big shoes to fill. However, some people don’t think Barrett will fill these shoes the proper way. Law professor Lara Bazelon stated that “the next Supreme Court justice will cast crucial votes that affect women’s fundamental rights, including the right to control their own bodies and to gain access to affordable health care for themselves and their families. The fact that President Trump’s nominee is a woman matters less if she does not support the causes at the heart of the long, continuing march for gender equality that Justice Ginsburg championed.” Senator Kamala Harris has also stated her opinion on the matter, saying that Barrett “will undo (Ginsburg’s) life’s work.” 

Although Barrett has some who don’t agree with her nomination, Conservatives believe she is the perfect candidate. President of the Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser, said that “she is the perfect combination of a brilliant jurist and a woman who brings the argument to the court that is potentially contrary to the views of the sitting women justices.” Along with Marjorie, law professor Jonathan H. Adler has stated his views that “as a scholar and a judge, she has shown herself to be a very careful and deliberate thinker who is concerned with getting the right answer, whether or not it’s the popular answer.” They see Barrett as someone who will add to the court with her unique views and perspective. 

No matter what way people view Amy Coney Barrett, her confirmation process is set to begin on October 12th. She has spent the past few weeks meeting with Senators ahead of her confirmation hearings. As Trump has tested positive for coronavirus, Barrett has been taking safety precautions to ensure that she, nor anyone else, will obtain the virus so that they can proceed with her confirmation process happening over the next few weeks. 

The Future of Women’s Health Care Is At Stake

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

The U.S. Supreme Court now has a conservative majority that is more than able to overturn the supreme court case Roe v. Wade. The addition of Brett Kavanaugh is all that is needed to overturn the law, as he replaces the previous swing-vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy. If the case is overturned, it would give state governments the power to ban or legalize abortions. According to history, at least half of the U.S. would criminalize abortion if this occurred.

In 2016, Texas imposed laws that forced more than half of the state’s abortion clinics to shut down. These were overturned by the Court, with Justice Kennedy casting the deciding vote. However, with Kavanaugh now on the Court, it is probable that he would allow such state-imposed restrictions to stand.

As a judge, Kavanaugh has never directly ruled on abortion. But based on prior precedent, it is clear how he would decide on the issue. He dissented on an appeals court decision that allowed a pregnant undocumented teenager in federal custody to have an abortion, which gives an indication to his views on the subject.

In addition to being anti-abortion, Kavanaugh is also opposed to birth control. One might suspect Kavanaugh would be pro-birth control, seeing that the purpose of birth control is to reduce the chances of a baby being conceived, but he isn’t. During his confirmation hearing, he described contraceptives as “abortion-inducing drugs.” It wasn’t clear which methods of birth control he was speaking of (e.g. pills, patches, and IUDs or emergency contraceptives); however, the term “abortion-inducing” represents a gross misrepresentation of contraceptives, as none can terminate a pregnancy. As Kavanaugh sits as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court for decades to come, the rights of women to health care and abortion that took so much time and effort to gain are at stake, and there is no guarantee what the future holds.