President Donald Trump Saturday announced Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the US Supreme Court seat left vacant by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
During the announcement in the White House Rose Garden, Barrett promised that “should I be confirmed, I will be mindful who came?before me,” and added that “the flag of the?United States is still flying at?half-staff in memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to mark the end of a?great American life.” Barrett also noted that “Justice Ginsburg began her?career at a time when women?were not welcome in the legal profession, but she not only?broke glass ceilings, she smashed them.”
Barrett was nominated to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals by Trump in 2017 and was confirmed by the Senate in a 55-43 vote primarily along party lines. Her confirmation hearing was marked by questions regarding her public statements on abortion and her religious convictions. Prior to serving on the court, she was a law professor at Notre Dame University. On the fortieth anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, she noted her belief that life begins at conception. As a professor, she signed a letter criticizing the Affordable Care Act provision that required insurance companies to offer contraception coverage. The letter claimed that the ACA “compel[s] religious people and institutions who are employers to purchase a health insurance contract that provides abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization. This is a grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand.”
Barrett also stated in a 2013 article for the Texas Law Review that, “I tend to agree with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks clearly in conflict with it.” This is a concept characteristic of an originalist interpretation of the Constitution, which is unsurprising given that Barrett once clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia, the most famous originalist to sit on the Supreme Court. Given her personal beliefs and judicial?philosophy, many observers have suggested that she may be open to reviewing and possibly overturning Roe v. Wade.
Reportedly, Justice Ginsburg’s final wish was that “I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” There is also significant controversy about Barrett’s nomination moving forward in the Senate just a few weeks before the upcoming election. In the final year of his term, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace Justice Scalia, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow confirmation hearings to go forward, claiming that, with 237 days before the presidential election, the American people should have a role in picking the next Justice. This time McConnell vowed to move forward with hearings and a vote on the nominee, despite the reality that there are only 37 days until the 2020 presidential election.