Trump to Pick Amy Coney Barrett to Fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Seat

This image provided by Rachel Malehorn shows Judge Amy Coney Barrett in Milwaukee, on Aug. 24, 2018. (Rachel Malehorn,, via AP)

By Elle Meyers

September 25, 2020

The 48-year-old judge has voiced opposition to the Affordable Care Act, Roe v. Wade, and LGBTQ rights in the past.

President Donald Trump will announce on Saturday that he will nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court of the United States, according to multiple news outlets late Friday. 

Trump’s announcement comes just over a week after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served on the court for more than two decades. Ginsburg was a reliably liberal justice during her time on the court, to which she was appointed by President Bill Clinton. Over her long career, she was a fierce defender of gender equality and played a major part in securing new rights for women. 

Ginsburg’s passing just a few weeks before the 2020 election has added more controversy to an already contentious election. Trump vowed to nominate a new justice to Ginsburg’s seat before the end of his first term, despite vehement calls from Democrats to wait until after the election. When Justice Antonin Scalia died in February of 2016, Senate Republicans refused to confirm then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, arguing that the country was too close to the presidential election. They have hypocritically reversed that argument now that there is a Republican president in the White House, and Trump has already secured the votes he needs to name a new justice. According to Reuters, a majority of Americans want the winner of the 2020 election to nominate a judge to Ginsburg’s seat for a lifetime appointment.  

Amy Coney Barrett was considered to be one of the president’s top choices to replace Ginsburg during the selection process. Barrett is currently a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, and clerked for Scalia 22 years ago. She graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame Law School. 

At 48 years old, she would be the youngest justice on the bench. She is a staunch Catholic and has signaled her willingness to place restrictions on reproductive freedom., according to the New York Times. In 2017, Barrett was connected to an obscure Christian group called People of Praise. The connection was controversial because the group has some Pentecostal practices, like speaking in tongues, belief in prophecy, and divine healing.

Here’s a look at Barrett’s  positions on some of the biggest issues the Supreme Court could face. 

Amy Coney Barrett Has Signaled Her Disapproval of the Affordable Care Act

Barrett has been critical of portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the past. She signed a petition against an ACA rule that requires employers to provide birth control access in their insurance plans. The petition argued the requirement infringed upon religious freedom.

Barrett’s stance on the ACA could spell trouble for the law that provides more than 20 million Americans with their health insurance. In 2017, she argued against a previous Supreme Court ruling that supported Congress’ authority to require most Americans get health insurance, or face a tax penalty. 

“Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute,” Barrett wrote at the time. “He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power; had he treated the payment as the statute did—as a penalty—he would have had to invalidate the statute as lying beyond Congress’s commerce power.”

Barrett went on to say she “vehemently objects to the idea that a commitment to judicial restraint, understood as deference to democratic majorities, can justify a judicial refusal to interpret the law as written.”

Barrett’s Stance on Roe v. Wade May Curtail Reproductive Rights

Trump has repeatedly vowed to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade, the decision that protects a woman’s right to an abortion. While Barrett has not explicitly said she would overturn the decision, she has been critical of the case in the past.

During a discussion in 2016, she predicted that the right to an abortion would not change under her watch. However, she said “some of the restrictions would change.” Barrett noted that the court could play a role in deciding how much freedom states would be given to regulate abortion. 

“I don’t think the core case, Roe’s core holding that, you know, women have a right to an abortion, I don’t think would change,” she continued. “But I think the question of whether people can get very late-term abortions, how many restrictions can be put on clinics, I think that would change.”

Barrett’s Thoughts on Limiting the Role of the EPA Raise Concerns About Climate Change 

Barrett’s previous academic writing has shown she could favor limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Although Barrett does not have a lot of decisions under her belt related to climate change, she does have some personal connections to the oil industry. According E&E News, Barrett’s father served as an attorney for Shell Oil Co., and her husband, Jesse Barrett, advised a petroleum producer in the Alaskan oil pipeline case. 

LGTBQ Rights Could Be Curtailed Under Barrett

Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court could mean big changes for LGTBQ communities. Experts predict that with Barrett on the court, religious groups will succeed in narrowing the rights of LGBTQ Americans, as Barrett has publicly supported the idea that marriage should only be between a man and a woman in the past. She has also claimed that Title IX protections do not extend to transgender Americans. As the United States continues to define rights for transgender individuals, new cases are expected to come before the Supreme Court, and LGTBQ groups (along with Democrats) have voiced concern over her influence on the court. 


CATEGORIES: Law and Policy


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