The Problems with Justice Amy Coney Barrett: From a Catholic Woman at a Catholic University

Following politics closely, especially during election seasons, can be a full-time job, and it is exhausting! Names like Amy Coney Barrett and Donald Trump are likely familiar, but have you had the time to comprehend their full impacts on your life? The implications of these people, their politics, and many more in their battalion are likely to be lifelong, and worthy of understanding. Understanding their relevance on all levels, from laws that may seem irrelevant to you personally to laws that feel like they are written with the sole intent of hurting you, makes these people worth learning about.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett rose to relevance quickly, only being appointed to the Supreme Court by President Trump a mere six-weeks ago, while the body of the late-Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was still warm. Justice Barrett has become well known for her extreme political beliefs in the name of being “Catholic.” As a young Catholic woman at a Catholic University, I am frightened by Justice Barrett’s implicit intent at this time. Many of Justice Barrett’s beliefs do not align with the Catholic Church, but religion is seen as an easy way to veil extremism in the United States, especially when someone is Christian.

So, how exactly will Justice Barrett and her politics impact your life directly?

  1. Healthcare: Justice Barrett, aligning with the views of President Trump, has stated that she is against measures to ensure that all people of the United States have access to even the most basic of healthcare, such as routine physicals, simple dental hygiene, or even access to optician services, many of these measures of which the Affordable Care Act attempt to ensure. Although many Americans with private or business-granted healthcare plans may think this is not a huge deal to them, think again. Further, President Trump and his entourage, including Justice Barrett aim to change the insurance policies that allow young adults to stay on their parent’s plans until they are in their mid-20s. There is also a movement to not cover people with pre-existing conditions for the conditions they cannot change and must simply live with. For those of us with uteruses or those who do not wish to get a sexual partner pregnant, preventative birth control, such as “the pill,” the implant, or an IUD, could be more difficult to get your hands on, or near impossible.

  2. Abortion and Overturning Roe v. Wade: Surely, a Supreme Court ruling from nearly 50-years-ago cannot be under fire? Sadly, the wishes of many conservative-leaning politicians to overturn Roe v. Wade has been at the forefront of many platforms since its passing in 1973. However, with an overall conservative-leaning Supreme Court (6-3) with the addition of Justice Barrett, this threat has become a reality. Abortion is a medical procedure that can save the life of a person carrying a fetus, overturning Roe v. Wade not only puts bodily autonomy at risk but is going to kill many people with uteruses due to pregnancy-related complications of non-viable pregnancies.

  3. LGBTQ+ Rights: Justice Barrett defended the Justices who came before her that dissented in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, stating that the Supreme Court did not have the right to decide if same-sex couples should be able to get married. Further, Justice Barrett has stated that Title IX protections, the very laws that protect victims of sexual assault, sexual discrimination and more, do not apply to trans US citizens, stating that it is a “strain on the text” to draw that conclusion. In further attempts to limit the trans community, Justice Barrett has misgendered many trans people and stated that they are not who they identify as.

  4. Gun Control: Justice Barrett has stated that she believes in “originalism,” a term coined by the late Justice Anthony Scalia, promoting the interpretation of the United States’ Constitution in its “original” meaning at the time that it was written; in a time where guns had to be manually reloaded, only land-owning white men were seen as worthy of essentially anything, one person had the right to own another person, and non-white people were seen as only ⅗ of a person. Consequently, Justice Barrett believes that guns are meant to be freely possessed as the Second Amendment states, in a world where semi-automatic firearms being readily accessible was far from a dream, let alone a reality. Justice Barrett’s beliefs in originalism are ironic as is, as she would not be able to hold most non-household jobs without the permission of her husband during that time, but that seems to be a point she wishes not to answer to.

  5. Biblical Equality is Not for All: Claiming to be a devout Catholic, Justice Barrett surely knows that in God’s eyes, all [people] are created equally, thus we should be able to assume that Justice Barrett supports the rights of those that are non-white? Despite having adopted non-white children, her stance on anti-racist movements, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, seem to fail to recognize the integral role she could fulfill in her newfound position. Justice Barrett stated that the killing of George Floyd in May of 2020 had a personal impact on her family and that her children cried from Floyd, yet she does not believe that her role as a Justice will allow her to elicit any change towards an anti-racist society, as evident in her refusal to rehear a case dealing with racial segregation during her time on the Appeals Court.

  6. Separation of Church and State: In the 2017 hearing of Justice Barrett for a seat on the Appeals Court, she was questioned many times on if she believed that her religious beliefs were more important than the law and if she would favor the enforcement of her beliefs over the law. At the time, she profusely denied that she would ever do such a thing. However, during the Supreme Court hearings, not only did the Republicans on the Committee discourage all questions about her religious beliefs calling them “irrelevant,” but Justice Barrett also refused to answer any questions raised about her religious beliefs. Although it is not common to answer questions on beliefs that pertain to cases that may arise, as someone who is known for claiming to be a devout Catholic, it is odd to even deny the mere fact that she is what she claims to be. This could arise as a massive point of contention in the near future, for with six of the nine Supreme Court Justices being Catholic, and the other three being Episcopalian and Jewish, there is minimal religious diversity on the Court; thus, what are the stakes for people in the United States who practice a religion that is not one of a Supreme Court Justice with an increasingly diverse society? With the increasing diversity and secular-nature of the world, this is likely to become a large point of contention in the imminent future, certainly in Justice Barrett’s time on the Supreme Court.

Staying politically informed is no easy task, and informing yourself from non-bias sources is much easier said than done. Social media as a way of informing one’s self is an easy way to fall into confirmation bias; ultimately, the best thing we can do nowadays is research for ourselves from a variety of reliable sources. Although we the people technically cannot do anything about Justice Barrett’s confirmation and voting on Tuesday, November 3rd may seem more pointless now, it is not. Voting ensures that there is a representation of the public within these grand issues. Although President Trump did not win the popular vote in 2016, he won the correct set of states that allowed him to win the Presidency, and ultimately the Congress approved this Justice and everyone that came before her and will come after her. So, yes, your vote does still count. A concluding mark from your local Catholic school-girl: Cura personalis is a common Latin phrase in the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church meaning “care for the whole person,” so follow Cura personalis, get educated, vote and fight for your rights!