29/09/2020

On a day that millions of conservative Americans have been awaiting for decades, Judge Amy Coney Barrett becomes Donald Trump’s third pick to the Supreme Court, cementing a dramatic and lasting conservative realignment.

Democrats and progressives are already alarmed that Judge Barrett’s nomination to fill a vacancy opened by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg a week ago will result in an erosion of women’s access to abortion and dismantling of Barack Obama’s signature health care reforms.
Judge Barrett, who was attacked three years ago during her Senate confirmation hearings to the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals for allowing her religious ”dogma” to live “loudly within you”, indicated she would take up the tradition laid out by the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked more than two decades ago.
“The lessons I learned still resonate,” she told the Rose Garden audience, which included a group of conservative and Christian lobbyists from the Heritage Foundation, the Judicial Crisis Network and the Family Research Council.
“His judicial philosophy is mine too,” she said of Justice Scalia. “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,” she declared.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett applauds as President Donald Trump announces her nomination. AP
Her nomination and likely confirmation to America’s top court – which is increasingly called upon to adjudicate those thorny moral, political and ethical issues that prove too difficult for the nation’s lawmakers – will be as politically charged as it will be fast.
Mr Trump has, over the past week, forged ahead to deliver a historic rapid-fire confirmation, confident he has the numbers in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Only two of the chamber’s 53 Republican senators have indicated they don’t agree with holding a confirmation hearing so close to a presidential election because the decision, they say, should rest with the next White House inhabitant.
In a statement sent just as Judge Barret walked out of the White House West Wing beside Mr Trump, Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer slammed her record as making “clear that if she is confirmed, the reproductive freedoms that millions of women hold dear would be in grave danger”.
“Should Judge Amy Coney Barrett be confirmed, a far-right majority on the court could also turn back the clock on womens rights and a womans right to choose, workers rights, voting rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, environmental protections and more,” he said.
Judge Barrett, who was appointed a law professor at Notre Dame in 2002 and in 2017 joined the circuit court that covers Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, has during her career backed gun rights, a tough stance on immigration and opposed abortion.
Known as a staunch “textualist”, who interprets the words of the Constitution literally rather than adapting its meanings to contemporary values, Judge Barrett now faces a grilling by Democrats on the Senate’s Judicial Committee, which is set to consider her nomination early next month.
While Democrats believe they are on strong political ground in opposing her nomination because she’s likely to uphold efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, they risk include overstepping their attacks if they focus too heavily on her religious beliefs.
Donald Trump with Judge Amy Coney Barrett as they arrive for a news conference to announce her nomination to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House. AP
Democrats have already been accused by Republicans of an anti-Catholic bias after California Senator Dianne Feinstein in 2017 asked Judge Barrett whether her religious beliefs would of colour her views on the constitutionality of abortion.
Senator Feinstein told Judge Barrett: “I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different.
“And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.”
In an exchange that elevated her status as a conservative hero, Judge Barrett replied that while she was a faithful Catholic her religious beliefs would not cloud her decisions on the appeals court.
On Roe v Wade – the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that protected a woman’s freedom to have an abortion without excessive government limits – Judge Barrett told Democrat Senators three years ago that the decision had been affirmed many times and survived many challenges.
“It’s more than 40 years old and it’s clearly binding on all courts of appeals, so it’s not open to me or up to me and I would have no interest in as a court of appeals judge in challenging that precedent.”
In a nod to Justice Ginsburg, Judge Barrett said on Saturday that she would, if confirmed, be “mindful of who came before me”.
“Justice Ginsburg began her career at a time when women were not welcome in the legal profession. She not only broke glass ceilings, she smashed them”
The “mini-van driving” mother of seven also noted that she was under no illusion that the road ahead “will be easy either for the short term or the long term”.
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