Who is Amy Coney Barrett?


Gwyneth Katker

Amy Coney Barret was nominated the new Supreme Court Justice on September 26th of 2020. Some people are very happy with this nomination and others are very concerned about the conservative beliefs she has. Source- DailyWire

Mahalla Hynes, Reporter

After Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, the Trump administration quickly began the process of selecting a new Supreme Court justice. After heavy consideration, they nominated Amy Coney Barret. This nomination comes at a strange time considering the past circumstances with the Obama administration. When Barack Obama attempted to nominate Merrick Garland, Senator Mitch McConnell said he would not hold confirmation hearings because it was a presidential election year, however, he allowed for a speedy confirmation for Barrett when the US is on the precipice of an extremely contentious election. 


While her confirmation hearing in the Senate went by quickly, it revealed very little about her. When asked about most topics, she claimed she could not speak on those issues. 


She is different from most Supreme Court nominees in the past since she does not come from an Ivy League College, or have a long history of government or judicial jobs. She has spent most of her career teaching at Notre Dame, her alma mater, and raising her seven children. Additionally, In 2017 she was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Trump. 


Throughout the confirmation, people raised concerns about her extreme devotion to faith, which causes fear about remaining judicially impartial. She was a part of the Christian group, People of Praise. Although she has never spoken publicly about her involvement, documents reveal that she has been highly involved. She has discussed serving on the board of a private Christian school affiliated with the church. The group had a very traditional view of gender roles, so it had a hierarchy dominated by men. They embrace practices of communal living, faith healing, and speaking in tongues. These communities tend to be far more extreme than other religious groups. This is reflected in her beliefs regarding women’s and LGBTQ+ rights. 


Barrett seems to be the antithesis of Ginsburg’s progressive values. She has made it very clear that she believes life begins at conception. Her past judicial opinions show broad support for the second amendment and the expanded role of religion in public life. These strong beliefs may make her a threat to women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, her impact won’t be seen until early November when she will hear cases on abortion, LGBTQ+ rights, and the ACA. 


In 2016, Trump promised to nominate a justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade (1973), a landmark supreme court case that allowed women access to safe abortions under the fourteenth amendment’s right to privacy. Many conservatives see Barret as the person to overturn it. During her confirmation hearings, she did not affirm that Griswald v. Connecticut (1965), which is a case that cemented the right for married couples to use contraception. This broke tradition, but she said that because no state would ever think about outlawing contraception there was nothing to worry about. While this is true, in some states the line between birth control and abortion is unclear, and many anti-abortion groups believe emergency contraception, also known as the morning-after pill, and intrauterine devices (IUDs) are forms of abortion because they believe these drugs prevent implantation of a fertilized eggs, yet many doctors disagree with their interpretation of how the drugs actually work. Her views may also propose a risk for in vitro fertilization (IVF) because of a process called selective reduction. Selective reduction happens because IVF is very expensive, so many people choose to implant more than one embryo and will terminate some embryos to make the pregnancy safer and more likely to reach full term. An abortion ban can lead to a ban on selective reduction, making IVF more dangerous and less effective. The future of contraceptives, abortion, and IVF has become even more uncertain with her as a Supreme Court Justice. 


Another issue she could affect is LGBTQ+ rights. She has shown repeatedly that she has a loose interpretation of what qualifies for a religious exemption. Advocates have also expressed fear because of her connections to the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative group that has been at the forefront of arguments for expansive interpretations of religious freedom that often comes in conflict with the rights of LGBTQ+ people. She claimed that she did not know about their discriminatory history. In 2016, she questioned, in a lecture, whether title IX protections for those who report sexual violence, harassment, and sex-based discrimination should apply to transgender people. In this same lecture, she also questioned whether it was the court’s role to decide on same-sex marriage. These actions evoke fear from LGBTQ+ people around the country. 


The ACA provides essential healthcare to millions of Americans in need. The Trump administration and Republicans have repeatedly worked to dismantle this. Experts say if the ACA was repealed, it would leave millions without healthcare in the middle of a pandemic. Barrett claims not to be opposed to the ACA, but she criticized a 2012 decision that protected it. 


Kaylee Archer, a Sophomore, said “she views [religion] as a rubric to tell what should and shouldn’t be allowed. She doesn’t make the consideration to people with other beliefs.”


She is only 48, and with a lifetime appointment, her impact will be longstanding. There is much to be seen in the upcoming months.