It only took a few hours after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died on Sept. 18 for left-wing activist groups to begin teeth-gnashing over the possibility that President Trump might not only nominate a third justice to the high court, but a constitutional conservative in the mold of the late Antonin Scalia.
By the time the president announced the nomination of 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Sept. 26 to replace Ginsburg, it was clear that the modern left’s disdain for Barrett went beyond her conservative judicial philosophy.
If the Senate confirms her, Barrett will have withstood what has been an unprecedented level of accusations and hyperbolic pronouncements against a Supreme Court nominee, most notably scrutiny of her Christian faith and how her religious beliefs might result in untold atrocities against the left’s two most sacred cows: the LGBTQ agenda and the abortion industry.
The assault on Barrett’s reputation as a wife, mother of seven children (including two adopted from Haiti, and her youngest, who has Down syndrome), a Christian and distinguished judge has set the tone for Barrett’s confirmation process. From scare tactics uttered by liberal politicians to internet memes shared by thousands, the noise generated to stymie Barrett’s confirmation has been deafening.
The president likely expected that the liberal shrill would come, but he didn’t budge on his choice nor his promise to constituents to appoint constitutionalist judges, as he has done more than 200 times during his first term.
Barrett, a New Orleans native who earned a full scholarship to Notre Dame Law School after graduating from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, clerked at the Supreme Court in the 1990s under Scalia after graduating first in her law school class. She spent 15 years teaching law until her nomination to the 7th Circuit in 2017.
Her husband, Jesse Barrett, is an attorney who also teaches law and whom she credits for making much of her legal career possible.
After Barrett applied for a clerkship at the Supreme Court, one of her law professors wrote Scalia a one-sentence recommendation: “Amy Coney is the best student I ever had,” a fact Trump noted in introducing her.
“Amy Coney Barrett will decide cases based on the text of the Constitution as written,” Trump said in a White House Rose Garden nomination ceremony.
“No matter the issue, no matter the case before her, I am supremely confident that Judge Barrett will issue rulings based solely upon a fair reading of the law,” Trump said. “She will defend the sacred principle of equal justice for citizens of every race, color, religion and creed.”
In accepting the nomination, Barrett took time to recognize the legacy of Ginsburg. “Particularly poignant to me was her long and deep friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia, my own mentor,” she said.
“I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate. His judicial philosophy is mine too: A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”
Barrett’s religious beliefs were publicly challenged during her 2017 appeals court confirmation, when California Sen. Diane Feinstein questioned Barrett about how those beliefs would influence her rulings. “The dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein remarked in a monologue that suggested Barrett’s beliefs would threaten women’s “reproductive rights.” Observers noted Feinstein came close to applying a religious test to a potential public servant, which the Constitution forbids.
In the week before Barrett’s nomination, left-wing websites and some news outlets ran with the narrative that a nondenominational Christian renewal group, People of Praise, which Barrett has been affiliated with, was everything from a cult to a group that subjugates women and gave inspiration to the 1985 book (and of late a streaming TV series) “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Newsweek and Reuters even ran stories saying as much, later having to retract parts of those stories when it was learned that the book’s author in a 1987 interview named another group, People of Hope, as inspiration for her book.
Nevertheless, internet memes with Barrett in a handmaid’s outfit and dire predictions about her potential role on the Supreme Court circulated for days afterward.
Left-wing activist groups have continued to press hard against Barrett’s confirmation in a slew of news releases and social media posts.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ lobbying group, said in a news release that “Coney Barrett has demonstrated hostility toward LGBTQ rights in her words and rulings.” Her misdeeds, according to HRC, are that while serving as a law professor and prior to her role on the 7th Circuit Court, Barrett had questioned the reasoning in the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling legalizing gay marriage nationally; challenged the appropriation of federal Title VII sex discrimination laws to transgender rights cases; referred to males who identify as females as “physiological males;” and criticized Roe v. Wade as an “erroneous decision.”
Conservatives see it much differently.
“President Trump has nominated a judge to the Supreme Court who we are confident will protect the religious freedoms and constitutional rights of all Americans,” said Kelly Shackelford, president, CEO and chief counsel at First Liberty Institute. “Judge Barrett’s record demonstrates her commitment to the Constitution’s text and its purpose. Judge Barrett understands that government exists to protect the God-given rights of the people and the Constitution exists to prevent government from infringing on those rights.”
Header Photo: AP Photo/Alex Brandon