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Pulling Teeth: Amy Coney Barrett and the SCOTUS Hearings

By: Elizabeth Buerkle

With the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, yet another Supreme Court seat has opened in the United States, the third seat available for President Trump to fill within his first term. Many have called for the postponement of RBG’s replacement until after the election, following the contents of her dying wish, but according to Trump “we have this obligation, without delay!” to appoint a new SCOTUS member. If she is appointed, she will make the Supreme Court balance between conservatives and progressives to a 6-3 distribution.

On October 12th the Senate Judiciary hearings began for the President’s nominee Amy Coney Barrett, serving in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals since May 2017. Throughout her hearings she has repeatedly dodged questions, making the statement that “If I express a view on a precedent one way or another whether I say I love it or I hate it, it signals to litigants that I might tilt one way or another in a pending case.” on the case of overturning the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade, and has responded to other questions regarding her stance on controversial topics with similar language.

Despite avoiding shedding light on her values within the hearings, many actions of hers have demonstrated the opinions she holds, such as her signing on an anti-abortion ad, or questioning whether it was the Supreme Court’s job to determine the right to same-sex marriage. She claims to be an “originalist”, meaning that she claims to be completely unaffected by partisan bias, and takes the Constitution completely at face value, going directly off the words within it and not infusing her own agenda into it. However, along with the fact her past rulings have clearly been influenced by her conservative values, criticisms arise from this mindset because, based on the description of her proclaimed judicial ideology, her job as a SCOTUS would be to simply read out the constitution, not interpret it as has been the job for generations. The claim that originalism is following the interpretation of the original writers of the Constitution falls short when taking into account that the founding fathers intended for the document to be edited and adapted for the times that would shift long after their passing. “I can’t interpret the facts in a hypothetical situation” describes the exact opposite of what the position she’s a contender for entails.

Along with the more partisan issues that surround her hearings, there is also alarming occurrences in the most basic fields of which she is meant to be an expert in as a justice. When asked what the five inalienable rights were in the first amendment of the Constitution, she responded with only 4; Speech, press, religion, and assembly before pausing, “What else am I missing?”. The one she missed was protest. Regardless of the implications that has within this time of massive national protests for Black Lives Matter, it demonstrates a lack of preparation. Many applauded her for having no notes in front of her during one of her hearings, Senator John Cornyn deeming it “pretty impressive”, however that would only hold much weight if Barrett had actually answered a majority of the questions asked of her. Law is known as an open book practice; lawyers are not meant to be judged on their memory, they are meant to be tested on their ability to use the facts of a case comprehensively alongside notes they may have regarding the law of the land. Justice Barrett proudly demonstrated she had neither of those traits, making a viral meme template in the meantime.

The filling of RBG’s seat has the livelihoods of millions of Americans hanging in the balance with key decisions to be made on the Affordable Care Act, Roe V. Wade, and LGBTQ+ rights. Many are concerned that the process that’s meant to judge whether the new justice will go about the job responsibly is being danced around, just as their rights have been treated with the same lack of respect and directness.



*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.


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