Amy Coney Barrett: The Supreme Nomination

President Donald J. Trump walks with Judge Amy Coney Barrett, his nominee for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Credit: The White House

As a result of the recent death of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Amy Coney Barrett has been selected by President Donald Trump to fill the vacant seat on US Supreme Court. If confirmed, Judge Barrett will become the youngest of the nine supreme justices.

Unlike Ginsburg, Barrett is not liberal or a progressive. A 48-year-old native of New Orleans and a mother of seven children, she is a Christian and a social conservative, and is unafraid to convey this. Due to this, Barrett has been portrayed as “controversial” by some commentators. During Barrett’s 2017 nomination hearing for the US Appeals Court, Senator Dianne Feinstein questioned her on her personal faith and values, saying that “when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.” In response to this controversy, Barrett has publicly defended her beliefs, she sees “no conflict between having a sincerely held faith and duties as a judge.”

In addition to this, she has also provided her opinion concerning the qualities of a Supreme Court justice, describing an ideal candidate as “someone who applies the law, who follows the law where it goes, and doesn’t decide simply on the basis of partisan preference.”

Judge Barrett is well received by Catholic conservatives across the States. She has been regarded by the president of the anti-abortion political group, the Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser, as the “perfect combination of brilliant jurist and a woman who brings the argument to the court that has potentially the contrary views of the sitting women justices.”

Other Americans, like Nan Aron for example, dispute this. As president of the liberal group, Alliance for Justice, Aron says that Amy Coney Barrett “meets Donald Trump’s two main litmus tests: she has made clear she would invalidate the A.C.A and take health care away from millions of people and undermine a woman’s reproductive freedom.”

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, also welcomed the announcement, saying on Twitter: “Congratulations to Judge Amy Coney Barrett, now nominated to the Supreme Court. May God bless Judge Coney Barrett and her beautiful family with grace and peace in the challenging days to come.”

However, there were many who took to social media to attack Barrett and her family in the vilest of manners. Newsweek claimed a Catholic group Barrett is associated with was the inspiration for A Handmaid’s Tale.

Dana Houle, a self-described political consultant to Democrats suggested that perhaps Barrett and her husband illegally adopted two of their children from Haiti. This brought a focus on the private family life of the Barretts. Self-proclaimed anti-racist writer, Ibram X. Kendi followed up with a racist smear: saying “Some White colonizers ‘adopted’ Black children. They ‘civilized’ these ‘savage’ children in the ‘superior’ ways of White people, using them as props in their lifelong pictures of denial, while cutting the biological parents of these children out of the picture of humanity.”

Retired Archbishop Charles Chaput said that criticism of Amy Coney Barrett is part of a “virus” of anti-Catholic “bigotry,”. The archbishop warned that public attacks on the Supreme Court nominee’s faith constitute a wider threat to religious liberty.

Judge Barrett is a conservative judge who is believed to be liked and admired by her colleagues. She started clerking for Antonin Scalia, Justice on the Supreme Court, when she was 26. She graduated summa cum laude (with highest distinctions) from Notre Dame Law School and, since then, has lectured as a Professor of Law in Indiana’s university.

Judge Barrett has seven children, two of which are adopted from Haiti while one of her sons suffers from Down syndrome. She is also known for her charitable work where she volunteers at her children’s grade school.