The U.S. president and his retinue of devoted Republicans in the Senate have wasted no time choosing and nominating the replacement for Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, after her death a week ago.
While some advocated for a Latina Justice to help President Trump solidify his Hispanic voting base, the president finally chose Judge Amy Coney Barret, a 48-year-old lawyer, jurist, and academic who serves as a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
The president’s strategy involves consolidating a conservative super-majority on the Supreme Court and politicizing the nation’s largest judicial body by nominating a professional who owes him her last two posts.
The president nominated Barrett for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on May 8, 2017, and the Senate confirmed her on October 31, 2017. Eleven months later, Barrett was immediately added to the Administration’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees.
A week after the death of liberal women’s rights pioneer Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump introduced Coney Barrett as “a champion of conservative judicial principles,” in a ceremony held early Saturday afternoon in the Rose Garden, according to the New York Times.
Trump said she would make decisions “based on the text of the Constitution as written” much as her mentor, Justice Antonin Scalia, the icon of legal conservatives for whom she once clerked, had done.
“She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution,” Trump said, making his third Supreme Court nomination in his nearly four years in office. At stake in her nomination is the future of gun rights, religious liberty, and public safety, he added, as he pressed for historically rapid action by the Senate. “This should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation,” he said.
As the Times continued, in her own remarks, Judge Barrett directly aligned herself with Justice Scalia, who died in 2016 and whose widow, Maureen Scalia, was in the audience. “His judicial philosophy is mine, too — a judge must apply the law as written,” Judge Barrett said. “Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”
For its part, the Democratic leadership wasted no time in expressing its discontent and outright opposition to the accelerating nomination of Barrett, who, for many, will walk through the open doors of Ginsburg to undo his entire legacy.
“Justice Ginsburg must be turning over in her grave up in heaven, to see that the person they chose seems to be intent on undoing all the things that Ginsburg did,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. In a separate statement, he said that making the nomination so close to the election was a “reprehensible power grab” that was “a cynical attack on the legitimacy of the court.
Described as an “ideological fanatic” by The Guardian, Barrett represents an ideal ideological framework for religious conservatives who support the president. A Louisiana native and Notre Dame law graduate, the judge, has said that legal careers should not be seen as a means to gain satisfaction, prestige, or money, but rather “as a means to the end of serving God.”
Her affiliation with the controversial radical Catholic group, People of Praise, emerged during her confirmation to the appeals court in 2017, when her photo appeared in the May 2006 issue of People of Praise magazine, documenting her participation in a Women’s Leadership Conference.
Although Barrett clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in the late 1990s, to whom she claimed to be an “unambiguous” acolyte during her speech last Saturday, the nominee is characterized by her “originalist” approach to interpreting the Constitution, CNN reported.
“His judicial philosophy is mine too — a judge must apply the law as written,” Barrett said of Scalia. “Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”
Liberal activists and politicians have warned of the risks of Barrett’s arrival at the Supreme Court, tilting the court toward conservatism in a 6-3 relationship, and that it could challenge the Affordable Care Act and abortion rights, as well as guarantees for LGBTQ+ and environmental protections.
Concerning the Second Amendment, Barrett dissented in 2019 in Kanter v. Barr against the gun ban for criminals; defended Trump’s policy of denying visas to immigrants who pose a “public burden” to the country; and in 2018, referred to Indiana’s abortion regulation as a “eugenic status.”
Finally, in the 2017 review of the Affordable Care Act, Barrett criticized Chief Justice John Roberts’ reasoning that saved the law, referring to “Roberts’ devotion to constitutional avoidance.”
The Republican leadership in the Senate has scheduled four consecutive days of confirmation hearings beginning Oct. 12 and a committee vote on Oct. 22.