- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 26, 2020

President Trump announced his nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court on Saturday, teeing up an epic confirmation battle during the final stretch of the 2020 presidential race.

The nomination of Judge Barrett is Mr. Trump’s third Supreme Court appointee — the most of any president since Ronald Reagan — and potentially tilts the high court’s balance dramatically in favor of conservatives for years to come.

Judge Barrett would be the youngest justice on the high court at 48 years old, taking the seat left vacant after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week.

The president honored Justice Ginsburg, calling her a legend. He said Judge Barrett is a towering legal mind who has a strong “loyalty” to the Constitution.

“This is my third such nomination after Justice [Neil] Gorsuch and Justice [Brett M.] Kavanaugh, and it is a very proud moment indeed,” Mr. Trump said in the White House Rose Garden with more than 150 people in attendance.

“I looked and I studied and you are very eminently qualified for this job. You are going to be fantastic,” the president said to Judge Barrett.

He urged congressional Democrats to be respectful of his pick, referring to the controversial hearing of his second nominee, Justice Kavanaugh.

If confirmed, Judge Barrett would be the fifth woman to serve on the Supreme Court and the second to be nominated by a Republican president. Reagan-appointee Sandra Day O’Connor was the first.

“I love the United States and I love the United States Constitution. I am truly humbled by the prospect of serving on the Supreme Court,” Judge Barrett said. “I will be mindful of who came before me.”

The judge praised the late Justice Ginsburg’s impact on women in the legal profession and praised her friendship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia, despite their being on different sides of the political spectrum.

“If confirmed, I would not assume that role for the sake of those in my own circle and certainly not for my own sake. I would assume this role to serve you,” she said to the American people.

The appointment gives Republicans the opportunity to expand the 5-4 conservative majority on the court to 6-3, a swing that outrages Democrats who say the president has broken precedent to rush the nomination of Judge Barrett with just 37 days until the Nov. 3 presidential election.

As soon as news broke of Judge Barrett’s pending nomination, the first shots of the confirmation fight rang out, with liberal activists calling her a threat to abortion rights and health care and conservatives praising her for being a thoughtful jurist.

Judge Barrett sits on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and was a favorite of social conservatives to fill a vacancy in 2018 after Justice Anthony Kennedy retired, but the president ultimately nominated Justice Kavanaugh.

She is a devout Catholic and taught at Notre Dame Law School, where she also attended and graduated at the top of her class, before her nomination to the 7th Circuit to fill a seat on the federal bench belonging to Indiana.

Her faith became a sticking point for Democrats during her confirmation hearing for the appeals court seat when they raised questions about if she could separate her duty as a Catholic — and the church’s pro-life teaching — from her judicial responsibilities.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, said the “dogma” lived loudly within her — a statement that has become a rallying cry for conservatives who say that Judge Barrett will be a strong jurist who would uphold the U.S. Constitution as written.

The eight justices currently on the high court include five Catholics: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor and Kavanaugh. Justice Gorsuch was raised Roman Catholic but is now Episcopalian.

The other justices, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, are Jewish.

Judge Barrett has a judicial reputation for being an “originalist” and a “textualist,” similar to the late Justice Scalia, for whom she clerked after she graduated from law school.

The Senate confirmed her to the 7th Circuit by a 55-43 vote on Oct. 31, 2017. Three Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia — voted with Republicans in support of the judge.

This time, though, Mr. Donnelly is no longer in the Senate, after being voted out in 2018. Mr. Kaine and Mr. Manchin have said they don’t support the president filling the seat this close to an election — saying the winner of the election should fill the vacancy.

Despite the pushback from congressional Democrats, Senate Republicans have vowed to swiftly move forward with the president’s pick ahead of Election Day. It’s possible Judge Barrett could be confirmed at the end of October — nearly three years to the day the Senate voted to confirm her to the 7th Circuit.

In that time, the judge has weighed in on legal disputes involving the Second Amendment, immigration and due process.

She disagreed with a panel decision to uphold a law that prohibited a convicted felon from possessing a firearm, even though the felon was nonviolent and had been convicted of mail fraud.

The judge also dissented from a majority ruling on the 7th Circuit that issued an injunction halting the president’s “public charge rule” that increased the requirements for a noncitizen to obtain a green card.

In 2019, Judge Barrett reinstated a lawsuit brought by a male college student who had been suspended after facing accusations of sexual assault by Purdue University. The student had sued the school, arguing he was discriminated against based on his sex and was unable to cross-examine the alleged victim and present evidence in his defense, upending his rights to due process. Judge Barrett and the 7th Circuit panel sided with the student and allowed his case against the school to move forward.

The “Me Too” issue is likely to come up during her confirmation hearing, as it’s been an issue raised by Senate Democrats who have peppered Mr. Trump’s judicial picks with questions involving women’s rights and decades-old sexual misconduct allegations that were never proven.

Progressive groups have also raised concerns about religious liberty and the issue of abortion.

They have charged that the judge would damage the Affordable Care Act, which is before the court in a case scheduled for Nov. 10.

“From day one, President Trump has made clear that he would only nominate justices to the Supreme Court who would vote to take down the Affordable Care Act, and now with 200,000 Americans already dead, President Trump is jamming through a Supreme Court justice who will take away America’s health care in the middle of this pandemic — because one week after the election, the Supreme Court will hear his lawsuit to completely dismantle the ACA,” said Leslie Dach, chairwoman of Protect Our Care.

Aimee Allison, the founder of the liberal women’s group She the People, said Judge Barrett would be a “detriment to our democracy” if confirmed.

“Judge Amy Coney Barrett in no way fills the immense void Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg left on our highest court. She is favored among Trump-loyal conservatives, and her judicial record makes it clear she would be solidly opposed to abortion rights and inclined, even eager, to reverse Roe v. Wade, and the Affordable Care Act,” Ms. Allison said.

“If confirmed, right-wing judicial activist Barrett would reshape the law and society for generations to come. She is a detriment to our democracy,” she added.

During her appeals court confirmation hearing in 2017, Judge Barrett vowed to follow precedent as an appeals courtjudge.

Conservative groups have cheered Mr. Trump’s pick, praising Judge Barrett’s judicial philosophy.

“She is a rock-solid conservative, who demonstrated in her hearing for the Seventh Circuit that she has a backbone of steel. Judge Barrett is young, brilliant, and exceptionally well-qualified. And she is an everyday American from the Heartland, who is a working mother of seven children — including a child with disabilities and two children adopted from Haiti,” said Mike Davis, president of the Article III Project, which backs Mr. Trump’s judicial nominees.

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden urged Senate Republicans to hold off on processing the president’s nominee, hoping he would win in November and be the president to fill the seat.

“President Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the successor to Justice Ginsburg’s seat. She has a written track record of disagreeing with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. She critiqued Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion upholding the law in 2012,” Mr. Biden said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide