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Trump’s SCOTUS Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett in the Wake of RBG’s Passing

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at American chapter.

It has been reported that only 3 hours after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, President Trump offered the newly vacant Supreme Court seat to Amy Coney Barrett, his third Supreme Court nominee. With one of the most hotly contested elections in history right around the corner, debate has arisen over whether this nomination should even be considered.

Remembering RBG’s Legacy

Lets first take a look back at Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life as a feminist icon and progressive champion of gender equality. Ginsburg died at 87 on September 18th surrounded by her family in Washington D.C. due to complications related to pancreatic cancer. 

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University before attending law school at Harvard and Columbia. After working as a professor of civil procedure at Rutgers Law School, Ginsburg was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1980, and then to the Supreme Court by President Clinton in 1993. 

The second woman to ever serve as a justice for our nation’s highest court, Ginsburg spent 27 years of her career presiding over various critically important cases. She dedicated her efforts to the fight for gender equality and reproductive health rights for womxn, including the protection of Roe v. Wade. Throughout her long life, Ginsburg was a lover of opera, literature, and modern art, but it was her work as a judge that she said most sustained her. 

Ginsburg’s last statement, made to her granddaughter, Clara Spera, was, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Nevertheless, Ginsburg’s passing did come during an election year and there is bound to be conflict over when her vacancy will be filled, and by whom. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg memorial
Photo by Ted Eytan distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license

The Scoop on SCOTUS Nominee Amy Coney Barett

In comes Amy Coney Barrett, a mother of seven with an extensive, conservative background in law and politics. Barrett graduated magna cum laude from Rhodes College and attended Notre Dame Law School where she later worked as a professor for 15 years. She speaks openly about prioritizing her catholic faith and is linked to a religious community known as the People of Praise, which allegedly subordinates women. At 48, Barrett would be the youngest justice on the Supreme Court if confirmed, allowing her to potentially shape American law and society for generations.

Barrett has said that she was inspired by Ginsburg’s relationship with Antonin Scalia, who she previously clerked for. If appointed to the Supreme Court she said that she intended to serve as a justice in his mold as an originalist, meaning that she interprets the constitution as she believes it was understood at the time it was written. “His judicial philosophy is mine, too,” she said in her debut speech at the White House rose garden. 

There is no doubt that Barrett is extremely intelligent and successful, but her conservative ideals may be different from those held by many Americans. Trump’s third supreme court justice nominee who believes that life begins at conception promotes anti-abortion policies and previously stated that abortion is “always immoral.” In 2006, she even signed a statement calling for an end to the ‘barbaric’ Roe v. Wade. She signed a 2012 statement claiming that an Obama Administration policy requiring employee health care plans to cover contraception was “a grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand.” She also signed a 2015 letter endorsing the Catholic church’s negative views on sexuality and same-sex marriage. Barrett has also stated that Title IX protections that prohibit sex discrimination in any organization receiving federal financial assistance do not extend to transgender Americans. Additionally, Barrett opposes the Affordable Health Care Act which has helped millions of Americans secure health insurance coverage. 

Barrett has remarked that Ginsburg began her career “at a time when women were not welcome in the legal profession,” yet “she not only broke glass ceilings, she smashed them.” However, Barrett stands to oppose many, if not all of the causes Ginsburg stood for. 


Should a SCOTUS Nominee be Considered This Close to an Election?

Barrett’s possible appointment to the supreme court is absolutely a point of contention in this year’s election. In the first segment of Tuesday’s presidential debate, Trump and Biden were asked to discuss Barrett’s controversial nomination. Trump has made Barrett’s possible confirmation a key election issue, claiming that if the election is legally challenged, a full bench of 9 judges would be needed to resolve the issue. However, with Barrett in the Supreme Court, any vote would most likely be in his favor. Contrarily, many Democrats including Vice President Biden believe that the decision should be left to whoever wins the election. 

It makes sense how so many Americans believe that the choice of a supreme court nominee should be made by whoever is elected in November, especially given what happened in 2016 with Merrick Garland. When President Obama nominated Garland for the supreme court vacancy left by Scalia, the republican controlled senate blocked the nomination and refused to hold a hearing for almost a full year until Obama’s presidency expired. This time around, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, pledged to bring forward a floor vote for a Trump nominee within the remaining 45 days before the election. 

Should Barrett be chosen to succeed Justice Ginsburg, conservatives would have a 6-3 majority in the Supreme Court. It is likely that many previous cases will be revisited and possibly overturned, such as Roe. v. Wade and the Affordable Care Act. One thing is for certain, voting this fall could potentially affect Barrett’s nomination and therefore many social issues impacting Americans today. It is therefore essential for those who care about these issues to cast their vote.

Her Campus Media

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

Photos: Her Campus Media

Hannah Brennan

American '22

Hannah Brennan is a junior at the American University in Washington, DC studying communications, psychology, and art history. An avid tea drinker and an advocate for mental health, she hails from the great state of Pennsylvania. As a creative, she enjoys reading fantasy novels and classic literature, watching old-fashioned movies, trying out new gluten-free recipes, and spending *way to much time* on Pinterest.