Who Is Amy Coney Barrett?

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One week after Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18, President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to fill Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat. Barrett’s nomination event at the Rose Garden, that may have been a COVID-19 superspreader event without masks or social distancing, has been highly controversial in large part due to her background and beliefs.

Who is Amy Coney Barrett?

Amy Coney Barrett was born on January 28, 1972, in New Orleans, Louisiana. She studied political science and government at Notre Dame Law School on a full-tuition scholarship and graduated first in her class in 1997. After law school, Coney spent two years as a judicial law clerk. She first clerked for Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1997 to 1998. After that, she clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1998 to 1999.

Barrett has been a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit since President Trump nominated her in 2017. She is also a law professor at Notre Dame Law School and teaches classes on civil procedure, federal courts, constitutional law, and constitutional theory.

What are Amy Coney Barrett’s views?

Barrett is a devout Catholic and a favorite of the religious right. In 2015, Barrett signed a letter to Catholic bishops endorsing many of the church’s conservative teachings on abortion and sexuality. The letter said that the Catholic church should promote the “value of human life from conception to natural death” and “marriage and family founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman.”

In 2013, Barrett gave two talks on Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized abortion throughout the U.S., to anti-abortion student groups at the University of Notre Dame. She recently failed to disclose these talks on a Senate questionnaire.

Additionally, in 2012, Barrett signed a public statement of protest against birth control and the coverage of contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act due to her belief that it’s an “attack” on “religious liberty.” In 2017, Barrett expressed disapproval in an academic article toward the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, saying that she disagrees with how extensively it makes contraceptives available. 

How does Amy Coney Barrett’s religion inform her views?

Barrett is a member of a small Catholic group known as People of Praise. This group teaches husbands to be authoritative of their families and always exert dominion over their wives. Barrett has said that she would hand down religiously motivated conservative opinions if confirmed to the Supreme Court, particularly regarding reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ rights. She wrote that a judge’s Catholicism should affect a judge’s jurisprudence. After her nomination to the Supreme Court, People of Praise tried to erase all mentions and photos of Barrett from its website before she met with lawmakers.

Will Amy Coney Barrett be elected to the Supreme Court?

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, said on September 27 that the Senate Judiciary Committee would vote to elect Judge Barrett as Supreme Court Justice before Election Day, on October 22. 

Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-MA) have said that they are opposed to voting for a nominee before Election Day. Both of them said that they believe it is too close to elections to elect a nominee, and they want to be consistent with the Senate’s decision not to proceed with Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination during the 2016 election cycle. Despite these two senators’ disapprovals, the vast majority of Republican senators are trying to ensure Judge Barrett’s election, even as legislation regarding COVID-19 relief remains in limbo.

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