Media outlets have already taken aim at U.S. District Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a possible Supreme Court nominee, whipping up alarm about her abortion views and linking her Catholic beliefs to “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
President Trump has said he will announce Saturday a nominee to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and has reportedly met with Judge Barrett, prompting the press to sound the alert.
“This is Amy Coney Barrett, the Potential RBG Replacement Who Hates Your Uterus,” said a Monday article on Refinery29 that was reprinted on Yahoo.
The headline prompted National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru to observe, “I’m guessing she didn’t come to have seven children by hating anyone’s uterus.” Ms. Barrett’s large family includes two children who were adopted from Haiti.
The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus warned in an op-ed: “Amy Coney Barrett’s judicial record should alarm liberals.”
It was Judge Barrett’s alleged membership in People of Praise, a conservative Catholic community, that drew the lion’s share of media attention.
Articles in Newsweek, Reuters and Refinery29 connected People of Praise to the 1985 dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which became a miniseries starting in 2017 on Hulu. Reuters reported that female leaders in the group were referred to as “handmaids” until 2018.
“Handmaid’s Tale? U.S. Supreme Court candidate’s religious community under scrutiny,” tweeted Reuters, as shown on the Federalist.
Judge Barrett “is affiliated with a type of Christian religious group that served as inspiration for Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale,” said Newsweek.
The basis for the reports was a 2017 New York Times article that cited unnamed current and former members who said that Judge Barrett and her husband were members, which People of Praise has neither confirmed nor denied.
Newsweek said the group was the inspiration for the novel by Margaret Atwood, then ran a correction citing a 2017 New Yorker report saying that her research included a newspaper clipping about another charismatic Catholic group, People of Hope.
Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, swung to Judge Barrett’s defense, describing People of Praise as “basically a Bible study” and calling on senators to “condemn this wacky McCarthyism.”
“These ugly smears against Judge Barrett are a combination of anti-Catholic bigotry and QAnon-level stupidity,” said Mr. Sasse in a statement. “People of Praise is basically a Bible study—and just like billions of Christians around the world, Judge Barrett reads the Bible, prays, and tried to serve her community.”
Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders applauded Judge Barrett as “a very strong conservative woman” and accused her critics of “attacking her for her Christian faith.”
“Let’s not forget, these are the same liberals who lecture us about empowering women when the truth is they’re nothing but liars and hypocrites who are only trying to empower themselves and their radical agenda,” said Ms. Sanders on Fox’s “Hannity.” “This is a time for us to send a clear and strong message that we will not tolerate a liberal mob.”