First there was “The Handmaid’s Tale” flap, and now Democratic activists are raising alarm about U.S. District Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s adoption of two children from Haiti.
Republicans unloaded after Dana Houle, who has worked for both Democratic congressional offices and campaigns, tweeted Friday that he would “love to know which adoption agency Amy Coney Barrett & her husband used to adopt the two children that they brought from Haiti.”
“So here’s a Q: Does the press even investigate details of Barrett’s adoptions from Haiti?” Houle wrote in a follow-up tweet. “Some adoptions from Haiti were legit. Many were sketchy as hell. And if the press learned they were unethical & maybe illegal adoptions, would they report it? Or not bc it involves her children,” Mr. Houle tweeted.
The blowback on the right was immediate. “Disgusting,” tweeted Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican. “The left now smearing Amy Coney Barrett for adopting children.”
He added: “It was the most predictable thing in the world that Democrats would attack Amy Coney Barrett’s children.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, called it “the Dem gameplan. Nothing but raw bigotry and hate. I promise you, this will not stand.”
Another progressive activist, NextGen America managing director John Lee Brougher, raised concerns about the Barretts, who are White, adopting Black children. The organization is part of Democratic billionaire Tom Steyer’s NextGen network.
“As an adoptee, I need to know more about the circumstances of how Amy Coney Barrett came to adopt her children, and the treatment of them since,” tweeted Mr. Brougher on Saturday. “Transracial adoption is fraught with trauma and potential for harm, and everything I see here is deeply concerning.”
His Twitter account is now private. So is Mr. Houle’s, but Breitbart captured a subsequent message from Mr. Houle in which he said, “I shouldn’t have tweeted it.”
“Not bc there is anything substantively wrong w it, but bc it was too easy to misunderstand, to mischaracterize, or use to manipulate the rubes who think I control what the press investigates. (As if!),” Mr. Houle tweeted. “Also, anyone getting the vapors at the suggestion that anything untoward might have happened in an adoption from Haiti shouldn’t.”
Judge Barrett, who is expected to be nominated Saturday to fill the vacancy left by the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has seven children, two of whom—Vivian and John Peter—are adopted from Haiti.
Media outlets have linked Judge Barrett to “The Handmaid’s Tale” over her reported membership in People of Praise, a conservative Catholic community, because the group referred to its female leaders until 2018 as “handmaids.”
Newsweek reported that People of Praise may have been the inspiration for the 1985 dystopian femi ist novel “The Handmaid’s Table,” but later issued a correction saying it was another group called People of Hope.
Canadian author Margaret Atwood said in an interview Wednesday posted on the University of California Santa Cruz denying that People of Praise were the group that inspired her book, which was turned into a Hulu series in 2017.
“It wasn’t them. It was a different one but the same idea,” Ms. Atwood said.
Even so, the “Handmaid” references kept coming. “The Handmaid’s Tale is just one justice away. The fix is in,” tweeted University of Minnesota law professor Richard W. Painter.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>The Handmaid's Tale is one justice away.<br>The fix is in.<a href=”https://t.co/NR0UWjV0GP”>https://t.co/NR0UWjV0GP</a></p>— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) <a href=”https://twitter.com/RWPUSA/status/1309848500750909441?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>September 26, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8”></script>
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Add Joy Reid to the long list of historical illiterates who don’t know the origin of the “handmaid” term used by Catholics (Virgin Mary’s statement to Angel Gabriel) and instead use it to make bigoted comments about a Catholic woman <a href=”https://t.co/tVvPDhWhlJ”>https://t.co/tVvPDhWhlJ</a></p>— Ellen Carmichael (@ellencarmichael) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ellencarmichael/status/1309678091137146880?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>September 26, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8”></script>
The reference comes from the New Testament’s Book of Luke, in which Mary describes herself to the angel Gabriel as “the handmaid of the Lord.”
Sean Connolly, People of Praise communications director, said in a statement that “there has never been any evidence whatsoever to suggest that the People of Praise played a role in inspiring Margaret Atwood’s book.”
“In suggesting a link between People of Praise and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the burden of proof clearly lies with the news outlet making such a claim,” he said in an email.