On Sept. 18, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away at the age of 87 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. While the nation mourned her loss and took stock of her vast legacy, Americans also debated whether her seat should be filled before a new president is installed.
Four years ago, the Republican-led Senate refused to hold hearings on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland because they deemed it too close to the election. The president nominated Garland on March 16, 2019, almost eight months before the November presidential election.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated then that “the American people should have a say in the court’s direction. It is a president’s constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice, and it is the Senate’s constitutional right to act as a check on the president and withhold its consent.” Now, the same Senators who refused to take up President Obama’s nominee swiftly moved to fill the vacant seat with President Trump’s nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Judge Barrett, a devout Catholic and mother of five, was a finalist for the Supreme Court spot that was given to Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. She is a 48-year-old Louisiana native who studied English literature at Rhodes College before attending Notre Dame Law school, where she graduated first in her class in 1997. Judge Barrett would soon return to her alma mater as a law professor. Judge Barrett most recently sat as judge on a federal appeals court in Chicago.
What does the addition of Barrett to the Supreme Court mean for the American people? Well, Judge Barrett is a committed constitutionalist. In 2013, she wrote, “I tend to agree with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks clearly in conflict with it.”
Now that her nomination has been confirmed by the Republicans in the Senate and she is sworn in, conservatives hold a firm 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court. During a 2016 presidential debate, President Trump ensured voters that “[he is] putting pro-life justices on the court.” Judge Barrett’s anti-abortion views may lead to an overruling of Roe v. Wade, which would put women’s abortion rights in jeopardy.
Aside from Roe v. Wade, the Affordable Care Act is in jeopardy. If the Affordable Care Act is stripped, roughly 21 million Americans could lose their health insurance, according to the New York Times. This would be particularly problematic in the midst of both a pandemic and an economic crisis.
Barrett is a strong advocate for the Second Amendment, providing for a citizen’s right to bear arms. Following her nomination, the National Rifle Association stated that “The NRA fully supports President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court. The Senate should act swiftly to confirm her.”
While accepting her nomination on Sept. 26, Barrett said, “I love the United States, and I love the United States’ Constitution. I’m truly humbled by the prospect of serving on the Supreme Court.”