How Justice Barrett can Revolutionize our Country
On September 18, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away, sparking a wave of mourning across the country, as Americans were left to reflect on the lasting legacy she left behind. President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans raced to fill her seat before the November 3rd election. Democrats hoped to somehow delay or terminate the process. On September 26, President Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee. The nomination and confirmation vote have sparked heated debates between the political parties due to the close proximity to the presidential election. So, what will Judge Barrett’s appointment to the Court mean to the United States?
Judge Barrett is the third Supreme Court Justice confirmed under President Trump. These three confirmations move the balance of power on the Supreme Court to the right. She could potentially lock in a long term conservative supreme court. The president selected someone that is likely to please his conservative base, so it makes sense that liberals are reacting with dismay. Democrats’ indignation mainly stems from Senate Republicans refusal to vote on or even hold confirmation hearings for President Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, while nearly a year remained before the next president would take office. Republicans at the time claimed that the people (via the upcoming presidential and congressional elections) should determine which political party would appoint the next Supreme Court Judge. This year, Republicans confirmed Judge Barret days before the current elections.
During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Barrett sat before 22 members of the committee and stressed that she was neither an expert nor a partisan. “Judges cannot just wake up one day and say, ‘I have an agenda: I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion,’ and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,” Barrett said. “I have an agenda to stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come.” However, after examining her past voting record, it is evident that she has a consistent conservative stance on abortion, gun rights, discrimination, and immigration, indicating how her past actions and comments could play a role in her work as a Justice. Now, the Supreme Court potentially has enough votes to overturn Roe vs. Wade, a legal decision that protects a woman’s right to decide to have an abortion at the national level.
Barrett not only poses problems for the Democratic party members, who are extremely anxious about the 6-3 conservative majority, but also for the Republican party. Many of the legal changes that can occur with Justice Barrett are unpopular with the majority of Americans.
Consider the list of issues:
Abortion. Sixty six percent of women and seventy four percent of men favor at least some restrictions on abortions. However, only one in three Americans favor overturning Roe vs Wade, and even fewer support an outright ban on abortion. Previously, President Trump made it apparent that he would anoint justices who would overturn Roe vs Wade. He already appointed two justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who are in favor of restrictions on abortion. In the past, Barrett has said she favors overturning Roe vs. Wade, and she might be the fifth vote to do so on the Supreme Court.
Same Sex Marriage. Last week, two justices, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, suggested the court revisit the decision on same sex marriage. Similar to Roe vs. Wade, Judge Barrett could provide the fifth vote to overturn the decision that made same sex marriage a national right. Although she has never explicitly said how she would rule regarding this topic, Barrett has made it very clear where she personally stands. She signed a letter, “Letter to Sunod Fathers from Catholic Women, sent to Catholic bishops, stipulating the “inclusive presence” of women in the Church. Not only did this letter further reinforce her views on abortion, it also suggests that marriage and sex should be between a man and a woman.
The Climate. The rise in extreme weather has been shown to be connected to climate change, causing many Americans to be worried about the future. A recent poll found that 65 percent want the federal government to do more in addressing climate change, and 80 percent favor stricter laws on power plant emissions. Barrett’s stance on climate change is not pronounced; however, given her conservative view on many issues, she may be the swing vote to overturn the 2007 decision that gave the federal government the right to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.
Health Care. In 2012, the Supreme Court sustained the Affordable Care Act, five votes to four. If Barrett replaces Ginsburg’s seat, she would become the swing vote in this case as well. Twenty one million Americans could lose their health insurance if the Affordable Care Act is overruled. Polls have shown that the majority of Americans want the law to remain in place, but Barrett has openly criticized the ruling. In a 2017 law review essay, Barrett lambasted Chief Justice John Robert’s 2012 ruling, saying he “pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.” If everything goes as planned, Barrett will vote on the latest challenge against the Affordable Care Act, one week after the election.
So much is at stake with this decision. Many have doubts about Justice Barrett that goes beyond her conservative views. Democrats, especially, have expressed concern with her strong Catholic faith, especially with abortion rights and same sex marriage at risk. However, Republicans describe Judge Amy Coney Barrett, 48, as a “remarkable” mother of seven children, with 2 children adopted from Haiti and a young son with Down Syndrome. They continue to praise her personal story and experiences. Republicans also argue that Barrett’s religion remains a personal matter, one which others have no right to question.