In the midst of a divisive election, a global pandemic and the loss of iconic Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a new female figure emerged on the Supreme Court: Conservative Amy Coney Barrett.
Barrett, formerly a judge for the Seventh US Circuit Court of Appeals, was sworn into office on Oct. 27 by Justice Clarence Thomas. A graduate of Notre Dame Law School and a former clerk to Conservative icon Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett holds all the credentials to be a formidable voice on the Supreme Court.
Barrett’s nomination and subsequent approval occurred in one of the most unprecedented periods of American history, according to CNN. She was considered after the loss of Liberal feminist icon, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, nominated by one of the most divisive presidents in history, and hastily approved by a Republican controlled Senate in under a month’s time. A strong pro-life advocate and traditionalist values espouser, she has also been alleged to be part of a religious group known as People of Praise although no public statements by Barrett have been made to confirm these claims. These conditions have led to strongly-voiced concerns over Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court.
Miguel Rivera, adjunct professor of political science at John Brown University, said, “Justice Barrett must make decisions, interpret the law, interpret the Constitution based on precedent and accepted legal principles and her faith cannot play a part in that process. If her faith on a particular issue clouds her judgment or influences her decision, she has a duty to recuse herself from the case. It is said that the law is a jealous mistress, and that means that it demands that only it and nothing else impacts the decisions a judge makes.”
At only 48 years old, Barrett holds the possibility of around 30 years on the court. Her place on a now 6-3 conservative court could mean reform for abortion rights, LGBTQ protections and religious freedom legislation. There has been much concern raised over Barrett’s values affecting her judgeship, to which she has replied, according to CNN Politics, “… the oath that I have solemnly taken tonight means at its core that I will do my job without any fear or favor and that I will do so independently of both the political branches and of my own preferences.”
These remarks will soon be put to the test as Barrett faces an influx of cases regarding mail-in voting, mail-in deadlines and potential disenfranchisement. According to the Associated Press, these cases have exposed “deep fissures” along ideological lines, with the recent rejection of the Wisconsin lower court order to allow ballots to be counted six days after the election. Barrett’s participation could have a decisive role to play in how these cases play out.
Justice Barrett’s entry into the Supreme Court could also place her as a new Conservative feminist icon. In Politico’s recent On the Bench article, the transition from Ginsburg to Barrett is a new wave of feminism. They stated, “Barrett embodies a new kind of feminism, a feminism that builds upon the praiseworthy antidiscrimination work of Ginsburg but then goes further. It insists not just on the equal rights of men and women, but also on their common responsibilities, particularly in the realm of family life.”
As Justice Barrett spends more time on the bench and navigating the hectic legislative environment present, speculative judgements of her character and competence will soon be cemented.
Photo courtesy of CNBC