Editorial: Amy Coney Barrett is a Woman but That Doesn’t Mean Feminists Must Support Her

Just because Amy Coney Barrett is a woman doesn’t mean she is a champion of women and the laws designed to protect them or their freedoms. Many conservative Republicans, however, take the view that Democrats and feminists should support the Supreme Court justice nomination of judge Amy Coney Barrett, who would fill the vacated seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, simply because she’s a woman.

Donald Trump and the conservatives hold up Amy Coney Barrett, female judge, as if to say, “See? We’re not anti-woman!” similarly to the way they offer up a handful of Black people in a crowd of supporters to say, “See? We’re not racist!” And so, according to some conservatives’ reasoning, If Democrats support women, they have to be behind any woman nominee. Any objection to Barrett is labeled as hypocrisy.

In an opinion piece in The Hill, Katie Pavlich asks, “What Happened to Democrats Supporting Women?”

“After her nomination at the White House over the weekend,” writes Pavlich, “it’s become clearer than ever Democrats are only interested in supporting certain kinds of ambitious and successful women.”

Certain kinds? Well, yes: The kind who stand for the freedom of women to make their own choices and have equal protection under the law. The kind who don’t want to block women’s  rights to health care, reproductive freedom, and personal autonomy. The kind who won’t legislate from the bench. And, yes, the kind who wasn’t nominated with the conservatives’ expectation that she will carry out the will of Donald Trump and the Republican lawmakers when it comes to dismantling the Affordable Care Act, overturning Roe v. Wade, and possibly even presiding over a lawsuit to contest the presidential election, should there be a contested election.

“Judge Barrett isn’t the kind of woman the left tolerates. She’s independent, strong and has rejected the notion that women are still victims in American society,” writes Pavlich, insulting the memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as well as “the left” and women who continue to be victims in American society.

“She is too religious, too respectful of her husband, has too many children and loves the United States of America. Not to mention her love for the U.S. Constitution. It’s no wonder the left is trying to destroy her. After all, she stands for everything they stand against: the nuclear family, true tolerance, freedom of religion, the principle that each person, no matter how small, has value, and much more,” writes Pavlich, falling back on the frequently used conservative narrative strategy of accusing “the left” of being anti-family, anti-religion, and generally anti-American.

Democrats don’t want to deny Amy Coney Barrett the freedom to practice her religion. They do fear, however, that her religious beliefs may influence the way she interprets the law and how she rules on cases. Will she be able to be unbiased? She is, we need to remember, the darling of the religious right, and of “pro-life” groups.

It’s unclear, for example, how Barrett would rule in cases concerning the rights of the LGBTQ community. And Coney Barrett’s past decisions have indicated that she would rule to overturn Roe v. Wade, thus removing a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. She has, after all, been nominated by Donald Trump to fill one of the seats Trump promised to fill with “pro-life” judges.

And speaking of bias, would she recuse herself from elections-related cases that go before the Supreme Court, should the 2020 presidential election be contested? Donald Trump clearly wants her participation.

Katie Pavlich wants badly to frame Democrats’ concern over Barrett’s nomination as simply an inability to recognize an outstanding woman if she’s not a Democrat. No one can say (and no one is saying) that Amy Coney Barrett isn’t an intelligent, accomplished, admirable woman. She is a judge, a scholar, a law professor, a wife, and the mother of seven. She clerked with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“Judge Barrett is a female inspiration,” writes Pavlich. “It’s too bad Democrats only seem to care about women’s achievement when an individual shares their political preferences.”

No, Katie Pavlich, it’s bigger than that. Not only is there concern that Barrett won’t be able to be an unbiased Justice, her past writing indicates that she would likely rule to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In fact, Trump and the GOP lawmakers have already indicated that they would take this opportunity to appoint a judge who would be with them on overturning the ACA.

In 2016, candidate Trump promised, “If I win the presidency, my judicial appointments will do the right thing, unlike Bush’s appointee John Roberts on ObamaCare.”

When he announced Barrett’s nomination, he tied repealing the ACA with her nomination, saying that eliminating it would be “a big win for the USA.”

On November 10, the Supreme Court will hear a lawsuit by the Trump Administration to declare the ACA Unconstitutional, and, if confirmed, Barrett would be one of the judges to hear the case. If Trump wins, millions of Americans will lose their health care. Most insured Americans will face the possibility of higher premiums, fewer covered services, and denial of coverage or price-gouging for pre-existing conditions. Services for women that must now be covered under the ACA, such as maternity care, annual well woman visits, birth control, and other services, will no longer be required to be covered, and women will no longer be protected from paying more for health care simply because they are women.

It really doesn’t matter how much of a “female inspiration” Judge Amy Coney Barrett is. And her political and religious preferences are secondary. What matters is whether she is interested in upholding equal protection under the law for all Americans, including women and marginalized communities; whether she would legislate from the bench by ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade; and whether she is ok with eliminating health care for millions of Americans without a replacement plan.

We can only hope that if confirmed, Amy Coney Barrett will not allow bias to influence her decisions as a Supreme Court Justice, and that she will not take us backward. Donald Trump and the Republican lawmakers who are eager to rush through Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation are banking that she will do both.

WATCH: Democrats respond to the first day of Supreme Court confirmation hearings | PBS NewsHour [2020-10-12]

Kamala Harris: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy is in jeopardy | CNN
[2020-10-12]

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