Amy Coney-Barrett: What You Should Know About the New SCOTUS Judge

Sydney Wold, Reporter

After Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg passed away, a vacancy was left. President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney-Barrett to replace Bader-Ginsburg in a decision that was met with controversy. This was because Coney-Barrett’s nomination came within a few weeks of the 2020 presidential election. Despite this, Coney-Barrett was confirmed to the SCOTUS as an Associate Justice on October 26th, one week before election day. 

Before Coney-Barrett was confirmed to the SCOTUS, Coney-Barrett had previously attended Rhodes College for her undergraduate degree, where her picture hangs in the school’s hall of fame. For her graduate degree, she attended Notre Dame’s law school and graduated at the top of her class. Coney-Barrett became a law professor  at Notre Dame and was well-liked by her students, even being Professor of the Year multiple times, according to BBC. 

Aside from her teaching experience, Coney-Barrett has experience as a law clerk, judge, and law practitioner. Coney-Barrett’s most notable experience is her work as a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Chicago. There, she maintained a consistent conservative voting record. 

Coney-Barrett is a constitutional originalist, meaning she believes the best way to interpret the constitution is to keep the Founding Fathers intentions when the law was put forth. According to the Associated Press, “Originalists argue that new legislation, rather than new interpretation of the Constitution, is the best way to bring about social change.” This viewpoint is one that was and is held by many justices, including Clarence Thomas and the late Antonin Scalia, whom Coney-Barrett had clerked for. 

Coney-Barrett’s strong Catholicism has raised questions about her ability to keep her beliefs separate from her judgement. She has disputed these claims, stating “I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge.” Coney-Barrett has profusely expressed her faith and her duties as a judge will not interfere with each other several other times.

Some organizations still remain opposed to the new justice in spite of her claims. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, an umbrella group of American civil liberty organizations, expressed concerns in an open letter that Coney-Barret was “incapable of rendering equal justice under law.” This statement stems from the worry that Coney-Barrett will interfere with Roe v.s Wade, the landmark case which ruled in favor of pro-choice activists. This comes from her conservative voting record and support from anti-abortion groups such as Americans United for Life.

A separate controversy followed Coney-Barrett into her SCOTUS nomination hearings. This one wasn’t related to her religious beliefs, rather it had to do with Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Coney-Barrett was extensively questioned about her beliefs about ACA, as many Democratic senate members see Coney-Barrett as a threat to the act. She has stated she is “not hostile to the ACA,” to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but she has made critical remarks about the ACA. 

Coney-Barrett’s first hearing as a SCOTUS justice occurred two weeks after her confirmation. This hearing, much to the dismay of Democrats, is a decision on Obamacare. The SCOTUS heard oral arguments in the California v. Texas hearing on November 10th. The case has yet to be voted on as of November 16th, according to the SCOTUS blog. 

Coney-Barrett’s installation on the SCOTUS can be best surmised as polarizing. It seems there are as many people who support the confirmation of Coney-Barrett as there are people who disagree with it. Only time will reveal the impact Coney-Barrett will have on legislature and the United States as a whole.