What does Amy Coney Barrett mean for the US?

By Ryley Lopushinsky

The tension in the United States is not going anywhere. The US Presidential election has come and gone, yet there is still no clear winner of the Presidency. Waiting on mail-in ballots has been a nightmare for us all. To be a step in a positive direction for the US, Joe Biden needs to win. Women, people of colour, the LGBTQ+ community cannot continue to live in this America. Although, Trump is still in office until January, Biden winning would not undo what has already been done. On September 26, 2020 Donald Trump once again astonished us all. He managed to nominate another Supreme Court Justice. Not only was she nominated, but he managed to get his third Justice sworn in during his 4-year term as President of the United States.

With the tragic passing of who an abundance of people would call the most iconic woman for women in America, Ruth Bader Ginsberg (RBG) a spot had opened up on the Supreme Court. RBG was a liberal Supreme Court justice who empowered women and the LGBTQ+ community. The American people now face a clear line drawn in the sand. It took 7 weeks and a unanimous decision to appoint RBG to the Supreme Court, yet it took less than 4 weeks and a split decision, 52-48, to appoint the new Supreme Court Justice. For the first time in history, zero democrats voted for the Presidential nominee.

President Trump needed to ensure that even if he lost the election, the conservatives would still hold power in the Supreme Court. He ensured this by creating a ‘supermajority’. Since another conservative has taken a seat on the Supreme Court, there will be a drastic 6-3 lean for the right-wing conservatives. This could have an extremely negative affect on a lot of current key issues in America. Who is this new face we will be seeing on the Supreme Court?

Amy Coney Barrett (ACB). A 48-year old woman who studied at Notre Dame Law School and was a U.S. Court of Appeals Judge. She also taught at Notre Dame prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court. President Trump repeatedly told us that he has been “saving her” for this moment. During her appointment hearings, there were quite a few topics brought forward for debate. When asked about climate change, she refused to speak on whether it existed or not. When asked about the constitution allowing a President permission to delay a federal election, she simply said “we want judges to approach cases with an open mind”. Finally, when asked if Presidents should be allowed to pardon themselves from a crime her response was “that requires legal analysis…I [cannot] offer a view”. There were many questions she refused to provide answers too because, they specifically related to President Trump.

One might think, “a well-educated woman being appointed to the Supreme Court to replace RBG? That sounds like exactly what the US needs”. Representation at a higher level is something severely lacking in a lot of fields, especially the legal field. Diversity and inclusion for all genders and races has never been needed more. Unfortunately, things are not always as they seem. ACB is a conservative Christian who has publicly shown her beliefs in subject such as the LGBTQ+ community and abortion (specifically the Roe v Wade decision). Her personal negative views towards these issues stem the question of how she will be a transparent justice. Another big question revolves around the Affordable Care Act, and how she will vote once it is in front of the Supreme Court.

LGBTQ+ rights have been changing for the better all over the world. We are all just human beings; we love who we love, and we are who we are. Every single person on this earth deserves the right to be and love whoever they want. How is it possible there are still humans on this earth that think otherwise? ACB links herself to a conservative Christian faith group called, People of Praise. People of Praise have a network of schools with guidelines specifically related to believing marriage to be only between a man and a woman. What will this mean for gay marriage rights? And how can a Supreme Court Judge be impartial to cases when they have such specific religious beliefs?

The First Amendment right provides free exercise of religion in the United States. This leaves open the potential that any time someone discriminates against a member of the LGBTQ+ community they can simply claim religious freedom. What transparency will the American people see with a religious and conservative led Supreme Court?

America faces another major topic always on the minds of conservative politicians, abortion. Why are women’s reproductive rights constantly contested? Replacing a liberal Justice with a conservative one completely changes the future of pro-choice legislation. ACB has claimed she will not try and tear down legislation brought forward by Roe v Wade. But, when asked why she does not see Roe v Wade as a super precedent she said, “calls for its over-ruling have never seized”. So, if not called by her, it could still be contested. Meaning, she will have the power to vote to strike down the legislation.

There has been significant evidence of ACB’s personal negative beliefs surrounding abortion. As part of disclosure as a Supreme Court nominee, she showed a newspaper ad she signed condemning the Roe v Wade decision. She has also spoken at anti-abortion events but did not provide the content of her speeches. Some people in America fear that the conservative bible belt states could lose their access to abortion and it could be effectively banned.

Judges (especially the highest court judges of the country) are meant to be un-biased and transparent. They should never let their personal beliefs influence their judgments. Politics and law are meant to be two separate bodies, but they always seem to become one. With such public views, how can Amy Coney Barrett stay completely transparent? The hope is there that ACB will be a transparent justice and live up to RBG, but it seems like just empty promises.

November 10, 2020 will be an important day for at least 20 million Americans. The Supreme Court will have another hearing on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), best known as Obamacare. Tensions are extremely high for Americans who rely on the ACA. ACB has said she does not scrutinize Obamacare, and that she will act independently as a Supreme Court Justice. She was nominated and appointed thanks to who? Donald Trump. What was Trump’s major focus when being elected in 2016? To take down Obamacare. The likelihood of ACB voting to cancel the ACA is high. When the motion is brought to the Supreme Court, will ACB really vote with the liberal side of the Supreme Court? Or will she stick with the supermajority. The people of have a right to affordable healthcare, and without the ACA they will not have it.

The citizens of the US are tired and scared. They want to feel safe and free. Woman should be allowed to have abortions. LGBTQ+ people should be allowed to love and marry whoever they want. Healthcare should be seen as a right, not a luxury. Politics should never combine with the law.

Further reading:

https://trinityriverridge.org/culture/culture-of-learning/

https://peopleofpraise.org/about/outreach/trinity-schools/

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a34499204/amy-coney-barrett-confirmation-healthcare-gay-marriage/

https://law.nd.edu/directory/amy-barrett/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH8J477_L28