What Amy Coney Barrett in the Supreme Court means for students

By Jakob Nacanaynay, Hawkeye Staff

With Amy Coney Barrett being sworn into the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) giving conservatives the majority on the judicial branch, many students are raising concerns over what this means for the Mountlake Terrace community and the United States at large.

Barrett’s supporters claim part of the reason she is so good for the job is her academic success, referencing the fact that she graduated first in her class from Notre Dame Law on a full tuition scholarship, clerked for judge Laurence Silberman in the D.C. Circuit and taught at Notre Dame Law where she received the “Distinguished Professor of the Year” award three times, and has had her work published by prestigious law reviews. Prior to her confirmation into the SCOTUS, Barrett served as a U.S. circuit judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 2017-2020 appointed by President Donald Trump.

To junior Izrael Carbajal, Barrett seems like the perfect replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

“She seems to be very strong in her beliefs and doesn’t really bow down to anybody, she was very smart in what she was saying, and it seemed that she knew a lot about what she was talking about considering she had no notes throughout the entire hearing,” Carbajal said.

What has also attracted support from conservatives for Barrett is her originalist view. Originalism is the idea that laws must be interpreted by the intent of the people who made them and how people at the time used the law in practice. One of the biggest proponents of originalism was the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who was close to Barrett, having had her clerk for him.

“I like that she is very focused on upholding the Constitution which is something that is very important to me because the Constitution is the fabric of our country,” Carbajal said.

Despite her accomplishments, Democrats, liberals and progressives alike paint a different picture of what having Barrett on the SCOTUS means. Some have criticized her devotion to the Catholic faith, heavy involvement with anti-LGBTQ+ groups and extreme conservative views.

Some displays of her conservative views people are showing concerns about include when she signed a letter condemning the Affordable Care Act and her signing of advertisements against abortion. For MTHS Feminist Club member Katie Barry, having Barrett on the court is a sign of troubling days to come.

“I’m worried about my rights to have birth control. I’m worried about people who want to have abortions in the future, because she’s obviously made it very clear she is very pro-life. And also, as someone who has a medically disabled sibling, the Affordable Care Act is the primary reason he’s been able to stay alive,” Barry said.

Barry, like many other opponents of Amy Coney Barrett, is also critical of the context of Barrett’s confirmation by replacing progressive justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

“RBG fought for women’s reproductive rights, queer rights, and everyone’s ability to have healthcare. I think Amy Coney Barrett making her stances backed by a lot of her religious standpoints – she’s fought against reproductive rights, she’s fought against the reproduction of transgender people, she’s opposed gay marriage. I don’t think she’s an appropriate replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsberg,” Barry said.

Possibly the biggest issue against Barrett’s confirmation was the precedent. In 2016, President Obama’s SCOTUS pick Merrick Garland was denied for a record breaking 293 days with Republicans arguing that since it was an election year, they should wait until after the election to let the new president pick the new justice. With the roles switched in 2020, Democrats have been encouraging the Republican party to keep with the precedent set in 2016 by waiting until after the election to let the winner decide who to admit into the Supreme Court. Obviously, the pleas from the Democrats did not work, and Barrett was confirmed just 35 days before the election; the shortest time between a nomination and election in U.S. history. Barry calls the move “very hypocritical” echoing a common sentiment among Democrats.