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

Editorial: Republicans Embrace Double Standard as They Rush to Fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Seat

Minutes after news of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing on Friday, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell was announcing plans for her replacement. Without even a pause to pay respects, and with no regard for Ginsburg’s legacy or for her dying wish that she not be replaced until after the presidential election, McConnell was joined by various other Republican lawmakers announcing their support for Donald Trump’s immediate appointment of a Supreme Court justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Republicans are already explaining away the fact that they’ve changed their imaginary rules mid-game. In election year 2016, they blocked Obama’s nomination to replace deceased Justice Antonin Scalia, saying that the next president should select the next justice. “Let the American people decide,” they said then. The GOP held the seat open for nine months.

Now, facing a vacant seat just weeks away from the 2020 presidential election, they’ve crafted an opportunistic rationalization for their eagerness to appoint a right-leaning justice, based on a non-existent “rule” that “If both the White House and the senate are of the same party, they go forward with the nomination.”

Even though numerous Republican lawmakers are on record as agreeing with McConnell in 2016 that a new justice should not be appointed until after a presidential election, these same lawmakers are ignoring the hypocrisy in their support of McConnell’s recent conveniently revised stance.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who said in 2016, “Why would we squelch the voice of the people? Why would we deny the voters a chance to weigh in on the makeup of the Supreme Court?”

In 2020, however, when Fox News’ Chris Wallace challenged Cotton and the apparent hypocrisy of the GOP, Cotton said, “The Senate majority is performing our constitutional duty and fulfilling the mandate that the voters gave us.”

Among the many other GOP lawmakers who spoke in 2016 “on behalf of the American people” to oppose a nomination by Obama “in an election year,” are these:

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who said in 2016, “It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.”

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose 2016 position was: “I don’t think we should be moving on a nominee in the last year of this president’s term – I would say that if it was a Republican president.”


Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said in 2016, “I believe the best thing for the country is to trust the American people to weigh in on who should make a lifetime appointment that could reshape the Supreme Court for generations.”

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), held in 2016 that “A lifetime appointment that could dramatically impact individual freedoms and change the direction of the court for at least a generation is too important to get bogged down in politics. The American people shouldn’t be denied a voice.”

To date, only two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine, have spoken up to say they don’t think the Senate should vote on a nominee before the presidential election. Both have acknowledged the standard set in 2016, when Republicans blocked even a hearing for Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump says he wants to “act fast” to get a confirmation before the November 3 election. Trump said that a nominee may be announced as early as Friday or Saturday (September  25 or 26). We can only hope his announcement follows the timeline of his imaginary health care plan that he has said for three years was coming “in two weeks.”

Trump has floated a number of possible nominees, saying he wants to appoint a woman because “I like women.”

Demonstrating the stringency of his requirements for a nominee, Trump said of one possible nominee, Barbara Lagoa, a Florida judge of Cuban descent who has the backing of many evangelicals, “She’s excellent. She’s Hispanic. She’s a terrific woman from everything I know. I don’t know her. Florida. We love Florida.”

Another possible nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, has stood out as very likely to be Trump’s choice. Barrett, a Chicago 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge, was in the running for the Supreme Court justice seat that ultimately went to Brett Kavanaugh. Coney, a favorite among religious conservatives, has a record of ruling in favor of various “pro-life” (anti-abortion) efforts to restrict abortion access, though she has never ruled directly on abortion. Barrett has also shown support for expanded gun rights and hardline immigration policies, and has voiced opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

During the 2017 confirmation hearing for her post on the Circuit Court, Senator Dianne Feinstein said to Barrett, “The dogma lives loudly within you.” This, no doubt, continues to make evangelical fundamentalists howl with the glee of possibility.

By nominating a woman who is “pro-life,” who favors expanded gun rights, who favors tougher immigration laws, and who might elect to strike down “Obamacare,” Donald Trump would be checking a number of his base’s boxes. He no doubt expects more votes from outside his base, too, by the sheer act of appointing a woman.

We can be sure, though, that even if Donald Trump nominates a woman to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she will be a darling of the evangelical right, and therefore, the opposite of Ginsburg, who led the liberal arm of the U.S. Supreme Court. She will be in a position to overturn what Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent her career working for, and she will be no champion of other women.

NPR’s Nina Totenberg said of Ginsburg, “She changed the way the world is for American women. For more than a decade, until her first judicial appointment in 1980, she led the fight in the courts for gender equality. When she began her legal crusade, women were treated, by law, differently from men. Hundreds of state and federal laws restricted what women could do, barring them from jobs, rights and even from jury service. By the time she donned judicial robes, however, Ginsburg had worked a revolution.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg championed women’s rights, as well as LGBTQ rights and minority rights because she acknowledged them as human rights. Many Americans can scarcely remember when women weren’t allowed to purchase a home without a husband or a male co-signer, or when a woman couldn’t open a credit card without the signature of a male. Many Americans also can’t remember the days before affirmative action.

The Republican lawmakers who currently fill the seats in the U.S. Congress have consistently shown that they value Donald Trump’s endorsement over honor; and personal gain over the good, or the will, of their constituents. Though they continue to try to justify their hypocrisy, this instance is no different from every other time they’ve chosen self-preservation over integrity. it does no good to try to appeal to their consciences by pointing out the hypocrisy in their rush to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat… they have squelched their consciences for so long that conscience is no longer of any consequence.

What McConnell, Graham said about Supreme Court vacancy in 2016 |
The Hill [2020-09-19]

What Senate Republicans have said about filling a Supreme Court vacancy | Washington Post [2020-09-18]