Ruth Bader Ginsburg (also known for a country that loves the acronym like RBG) died on September 18, Friday. Just a week later, on Saturday the 26th, President Donald Trump announced the appointment of the one who will replace those who many saw as a feminist icon: a woman whose judicial career and religious beliefs lead to risk a vote in the Supreme Court that may threaten fundamental rights for women, like the one that in 1973 established that the US Constitution guaranteed the right to end an unwanted pregnancy.
A fervent Catholic, anti-abortion, mother of seven children – one with Down syndrome and two others adopted in Haiti – Amy Coney Barrett (there are already shirts with the acronym ACB) will reach the highest court in the nation, if confirmed, with credentials that make her the most ultra-conservative right wing candidate. In fact, Trump’s proud announcement that RBG would be replaced by another woman, by that woman, it has been considered an insult to a whole vital trajectory dedicated to the defense of equality. As the law professor Lara Bazelon writes this Saturday in the newspaper The New York Times, “Not just any woman is good.” Women are not like “gym socks you buy in bulk” and are replaced by others when one of them becomes mismatched.
At 48 years old, Amy Coney Barrett could become the youngest Supreme Court justice and the fifth woman in the history of the United States high court. For Republicans, Barrett is the ideal candidate for a life office that will define the destiny of the country for decades, as Supreme Court justices interpret the Constitution. In this regard, Barrett – as was the case with the late conservative judge Antonin Scalia, for whom the lawyer worked for more than 10 years – defines herself as an “originalist” or “textualist”, those who pursue the philosophy that strictly contemplates texts of the Constitution and they try to apply in their sentences the original intention of its creators in 1787. We are talking about the 18th century. The judge – with only three years of experience as head – belongs to the Federalist Society, the conservative judicial organization that has been fundamental in influencing Trump for the election of Supreme Court justices.
“Dogma defines his life”
Her Catholic faith led Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein to question whether Barrett could issue rulings leaving aside her religious creed during her 2017 confirmation for her position on the Chicago Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. “Dogma defines his life,” Feinstein told him, “and that is a cause for concern” in a judge, the senator certified.
Barrett defended himself: “If you ask me if I take my Catholic faith seriously, I do. But I must emphasize that my personal affiliation to my church or my religious beliefs will not affect my duty as a judge. Barrett is a member of a particular conservative Christian faith group known as the People of Praise. As reported by various media, including The New York Times Y Newsweek, this group has among its teachings that it is “the husband who must assume all authority within the home.”
If confirmed to belong to the select establishment that has become in recent decades a kind of third Chamber, an arbitrator of intractable disputes, Barrett would be the sixth Catholic member of the Court; all except Sonia Sotomayor have been appointed by Republican presidents. Judge Neil Gorsuch grew up Catholic, but today he is an Episcopalian. The other two magistrates, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, are Jewish.
This is not the first time that Barrett has been considered for the position. When Justice Anthony Kennedy retired in 2018, President Trump met with Barrett. But those who knew the ins and outs of that moment say that the meeting with the president did not go well: the judge had conjunctivitis, which forced her to wear dark glasses. “Without a doubt, he was not in his best day,” says a source quoted by the public radio station NPR who preferred to remain anonymous.
However, the meetings in the White House this week between the judge and the president seem to have gone better (judging by the nomination). Barrett has even received the blessing of the almighty Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, who sees in this woman a bomb-proof conservative résumé to reshape American law and society for years to come.
In the opinion of Chuck Schumer, leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate, Barrett “defends everything that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was opposed to.” And the New York Democrat points out something else: “He defends many things with which the vast majority of the American people do not agree.” The fact that the White House nominee is a woman is almost irrelevant if that woman does not support the equal rights between men and women that Judge Ginsburg defended all her life, until her death.
In the same way that Roe versus Wade endangered with an ultra-conservative majority in the Supreme Court, the future of the one already baptized as Obamacare could also be at risk with the appointment of Barrett. The high court, in fact, has a third assault on the law on its agenda a week after the presidential elections.
Professor Lara Bazelon writes in the Times: “On her deathbed, Justice Ginsburg wrote that her fondest wish was that a new judge not be appointed until after the election. It is a cold calculation on the part of the president, master of misogyny, that the nomination of a woman, by itself, should be sufficient to soften any opposition to the monstrosity of a fast-paced, hypocritical and overt political farce. ” “Think again, Mr. President: we are not stupid.”
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