Amy Coney Barrett: Is the Handmaid’s Tale the Imminent Future?

As Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life drew to a close, the former Supreme Court justice stated: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” However, the judicial defender of human rights’ request was disregarded by the Republican-dominated Executive Branch and Senate, who proceeded with the nomination of conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett on October 25th. While Barrett will be only the second woman nominated to the Supreme Court by a Republican president, her background and beliefs do not parallel the interest of women’s rights. As a devout conservative Catholic, Barrett’s confirmation to the court is expected to have adverse implications on healthcare, reproductive rights, as well as other basic human rights that have been politicized by the U.S. 

Wooden gavel on a white marble backdrop Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm from Unsplash Recently, Barrett’s fervent religious beliefs have been further solidified through the publicization of her engagement with the majority Catholic, Christian group; People of Praise. Founded nearly 50 years ago in Indiana, this religious organization of approximately 1,700 members preaches adherence to stringent, biblical gender roles and is controlled by a “male-dominated hierarchy and view of gender roles.” Barrett was given the eerie female leadership position of “handmaid” in People of Praise according to the organization’s 2010 directory. Barrett justifies her position in the organization by emphasizing that her personal motives will not intrude on legal matters. However, the extent to which Barrett’s intense commitment to her religious beliefs will impact true justice from being served presents concern regarding the separation of church and state.  

The significance of Amy Coney Barrett’s impending position on the Supreme Court is vital to comprehend since her seat is expected to have massive implications on the rights of millions of Americans through transforming the previously more politically balanced court to a 6-3 conservative majority. Abortion and reproductive rights are major topics of concern upon Barrett’s nomination. As the country becomes more partisan, abortion has already been subjected to intense supervision in recent years, with 33 states imposing 479 restrictions on abortion over the past decade. 

The future is female Photo by Lindsey LaMont from Unsplash In particular, the intensely controversial, 47-year-old Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion is expected to be under attack by the Supreme Court. Although Barrett has stated that she would consider revisiting Roe v. Wade, she has yet to clarify her judicial stance on the case. However, in the past, Barrett has voted in two cases to further restrict abortion. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, an estimated 25 million people could “lose access to safe, legal abortion.” In terms of abortion rights, an essential nuance to indicate is that women of color and poor women will be especially impacted by this potential reversal due to a variety of factors, such as an inability to travel in order to obtain an abortion, as well as being unable to lose their employment status if they have to carry a child to term. In conjunction with the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade, seventeen abortion-related cases are nearing evaluation by the Supreme Court. 

Another major issue of concern is the precarious position of the Affordable Care Act—AKA Obamacare—which will be reviewed by the conservative-dominated Supreme Court this November to determine if the trend toward a more socially just form of healthcare in the U.S. will be extinguished or protected. The ACA is vital to the health of many marginalized demographics in American society, including women, since the act covers contraception and other preventative services for sexual and reproductive health. The Trump administration’s nomination of Barrett will likely threaten the health and wellbeing of over 20 million Americans who depend on the ACA in order to receive health insurance coverage. Additionally, Emily Martin, vice-president for education and workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center, predicts that having a third branch of government that is largely controlled by the Trump administration’s motives will intensify the difficulty of addressing workplace harassment, discrimination, and the protection of worker rights.

Freedom of speech Photo by Jose M. from Unsplash Concerningly, based upon Amy Coney Barrett’s personal agenda as well as the judge’s past legal decisions, the United States may be infringing further upon a sort of Handmaid’s Tale dystopia. Under a transformed Supreme Court, many human rights, and women’s rights, in particular, are at risk of being annihilated, and are ultimately at the hands of nine individuals. As millions of Americans continue to panic about Barrett’s looming confirmation it is relevant to ponder whether a country is a genuine democracy “if one leader’s death can drastically alter a country’s course.”