By Al Edwards
Amy Coney Barrett has undergone a thorough grilling as she vies to become United States President Donald Trump’s pick to hold a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Through it all she has remained clear-eyed, stoic and unbowed.
She has not been confrontational or truculent, choosing to be poised and gracious at all times.
Trump and the Republicans want to place her on the Supreme Court for their purposes – ensure Obamacare is no more, undo Roe vs Wade and counter Democrat appointments with someone more favourable to Republican thinking.
A staunch Catholic, she is unapologetic about her views, insisting it will not shape her decision-making process on the bench.
Democrats believe her appointment must be stopped at all costs as she will tear down all that they hold sacred. She is seen as the anthesis of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an unyielding ultra-conservative jurist who cannot see beyond her dogmatic prism.
The judge from New Orleans is eminently qualified and is well versed in Supreme Court case law. She is decent, civil, diplomatic, a woman who loves and cherishes her family. She seems unlikely to be an embarrassment to the highest court in the land.
Aged 48, if her nomination were to be successful, she will become the youngest person to sit on the Supreme Court, having been a circuit judge for only three years. She was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2017.
She is a professor on constitutional law and statutory interpretation, teaching at the Notre Dame Law School. She clerked for Antonin Scalia, who she regards as a mentor.
Though it can be said she needs to garner more experience before she sits on the highest court of the land, one gets the impression that she is intelligent, rational and even-tempered – in short, a safe pair of hands.
It is therefore a shame that she is being used as a political pawn and her merits seem to be of secondary consideration during the hearings. Unsavory questions about her family are uncalled for and again the political imperative always seems to raise its head here.
“If you’re asking whether I take my Catholic faith seriously, I do though I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear on the discharge of my duties as a judge.”Amy Coney Barrett, Supreme Court nominee
To Barrett, it would be the ultimate honour to sit as a Supreme Court judge but at what cost? Is she there as a political adjunct or as a skilled jurist with plenty to offer?
It does her a disservice to say her decisions will come from her religious positions and not from her intellect and ability to interrupt the law. On this matter she has said: “If you’re asking whether I take my Catholic faith seriously, I do though I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear on the discharge of my duties as a judge.”
I believe her.
She has taken heat for her position on the Affordable Care Act and there is a notion held by Democrats that she has a penchant for dismantling it.
Here’s what she had to say about one of Barack Obama’s proudest accomplishments.
“Chief Justice (John) Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute. He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power; had he treated the payment as the statute did- as a penalty – he would have had to invalidate the statute as lying beyond Congress’s commerce power.’’
Now, this has raised a red flag with liberals. She is also viewed as a medusa, hell bent on doing away with abortion and LGBT protection laws.
Amy Coney Barrett is not an altogether terrible nominee for the Supreme Court, but she is being expeditiously and expediently jammed onto the bench and that undermines her.
Her nomination would be far more legitimate and have greater credibility after the presidential election on November 3. If President Trump is confident of victory he should wait until then and focus on the fight against COVID-19 and winning the election in the coming weeks.
Once he is victorious, the Democrats would have little to baulk about and should respect the precedent of the President making and seeing to it that his Supreme Court pick goes through.
Right now, the process smacks of desperation and an attempt to ensure the Supreme Court subscribes to an agenda in the event that the Republicans lose both the Senate and the presidency.
It doesn’t do Amy Coney Barrett any credit and sees to it that her decisions will always be regarded as politically partisan.
Here’s Senator Lindsey Graham in full, unadulterated mode, oblivious to how he has politicised Barrett.
“This is the first time in American history that we’ve nominated a woman who is unashamedly pro-life and embraces her faith without apology and she is going to the court. A seat at the table is waiting for you. I have never been prouder of a nominee than you.”