Amy Coney Barrett’s ride to the Supreme Court has been nothing short of controversial.
Coney Barrett, the newest Supreme Court Justice, was confirmed on Oct. 26, replacing late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was appointed by President Donald Trump just over a week away from the 2020 election. Her appointment was widely debated amongst Americans.
One reason that Coney Barrett’s appointment was controversial was that she was President Trump’s replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). Many criticized Coney Barrett because she stood against many of the core beliefs and decisions of Ginsburg. Trump appointed a woman to calm some tension surrounding Ginsburg’s replacement but chose someone that could have the power to reverse many of RBG’s decisions. Coney Barrett is a firm supporter of the pro-life anti-abortion movement, which opposes Ginsburg’s stance on women’s rights and abortion.
Regardless of her political stances, Amy Coney Barrett’s qualifications have come into question. According to The New York City Bar, in their evaluation of Coney Barrett, they found her to be “qualified to serve as a Supreme Court Justice, with reservations.” Coney Barrett is the least qualified Supreme Court nominee in 30 years, making it easy for Republicans to rush her nomination since she does not have very many proofs of qualification. She has little experience in the field of law, not serving as a judge until 2017, when she was nominated by President Trump to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Compared to other Justice nominees, her resume is short, with most of her career being spent in Academia.
On the other hand, Coney Barrett is an esteemed academic and Rhodes Scholar who prides herself on being able to stay objective in her decisions. Coney Barrett is also a textualist, meaning she follows a strict interpretation of the Constitution in her decisions. She believes that the Constitution should be used as a law with a meaning that does not evolve over time. While this belief system is meant to keep her decisions objective, she is also known for her extreme conservative beliefs and Catholic religion. Her Catholic faith certainly shows in her opinions, as she has advocated against abortion and does not clearly support same-sex marriage. One piece of evidence brought up in her hearing was an anti-abortion newspaper ad that she signed in 2006 and did not present to the Senate in her files. She also dodged many questions regarding same-sex marriage, leaving many LGBTQ+ Americans fearful of her impact. This will undoubtedly have an impact on her decisions on the Supreme Court and will go against many of RBG’s previous decisions.
Other controversy comes from the timing of Barrett’s appointment, eight days prior to the 2020 Presidential Election. It has been widely debated amongst Americans, with many contrasting Barrett’s appointment with the nomination and unsuccessful confirmation of Merrick Garland by President Barack Obama in 2016, 237 days before the 2016 election. Many called the Republican members of the Senate, specifically Mitch McConnell, hypocritical for denying Merrick Garland’s appointment but allowing Coney Barrett’s election so close to an election. Since the only real guideline for confirming Justices is the loose Thurmond Rule, there is no determination as to when Supreme Court justices can and cannot be confirmed.
Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination could be the mark of a dying campaign for President Trump, who has confirmed two Justices, Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh, throughout his time in office. With her confirmation to the court, the Supreme Court now has a Republican majority, potentially a last-ditch effort by Trump to create a lasting impact after his presidency ends.
She could also have a significant impact on the result of the 2020 election. In a potential loss for President Trump, many have hypothesized that he will disagree with the result, blaming mail-in voting. While there is no way to know, it is possible that he will push back against the results of the election if he loses, enough to take the decision to the Supreme Court. While Coney Barett states that she will not allow bias to affect her decision, it is hard to believe that she would stay objective in matters regarding the person who gave her the seat on the Supreme Court, which could potentially be the case with the controversial results of the 2020 presidential election.
Overall, while Coney Barrett does meet the technical requirements to be a Supreme Court Justice, her confirmation has a lot of issues surrounding it. Because of the timing and the clear attempt to shift the political majority in the Supreme Court, along with her short legal career, Amy Coney Barrett is not the fittest candidate to be a Supreme Court Justice. Coney Barrett is only 48 years old and therefore will serve on the Supreme Court for upwards of 40 years. She will serve for her entire life on the Supreme Court and will likely have a controversial career and a large effect on the future of the United States.
Grace Beilman // Opinion Editor