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

Brett Kavanaugh: Judicial Temperament, or Adolescent Temper?

The issue of whether Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford is much more complex than a simple “he-said, she-said” situation. For the Republicans, it’s not about what Kavanaugh did or didn’t do…It’s about having their man on the Supreme Court. Indeed, Fifty-four percent of Republicans said that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed, “regardless of whether (Christine Blasey) Ford’s allegations are true,” according to a recent NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist poll.

But putting aside (for a moment) the question of whether Kavanaugh did the things he is accused of (by two women in addition to Blasey Ford), Kavanaugh showed some worrisome traits – traits that are the opposite of those befitting a Supreme Court Justice.

First, he demonstrated an adolescent belligerence at various times during his questioning. When asked by Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, whether he had ever drunk so much that he blacked out, Kavanaugh responded, “You’re asking about black out, I don’t know, have you?”

If he were a teenager and spoke to his parents in that manner, he’d likely be grounded. But he’s an adult who spoke to a U.S. Senator that way, and the Republicans want to reward him with a Supreme Court judgeship.

Second, Kavanaugh lost his temper and general composure at various times during questioning, lashing out at Democrats and accusing them of conspiring against him as revenge “on behalf of the Clintons.” (Kavanaugh was an associate counsel for Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Bill Clinton.) This and other accusations of Democrat conspiracy, along with his warning that he would “threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come,” should alarm us. Not only do Brett Kavanaugh’s statements and manner reveal his ability to maintain calm under pressure, they also underline his clear partisanship.

Third, Kavanaugh has been caught in several “small” lies from his testimony. He claimed that he had no connections to Yale, and that he got in by “working his butt off.” In reality, his grandfather attended Yale, and this makes Kavanaugh a legacy student. When asked about an item on his calendar (“Devil’s Triangle”) from when he was in high school, he claimed it was the name of a drinking game though, in reality, it is the name for a sexual situation with two men and one woman. Since Thursday’s hearing, several classmates of Kavanaugh’s have come forward, saying that he downplayed the degree to which he drank, as well as having lied about never blacking out.

Though the lies in Kavanaugh’s testimony may seem small, they are still lies. Lying under oath is perjury.

As Chad Ludington, a former Yale classmate of Kavanaugh, said, “I do believe that Brett’s actions as a 53-year-old federal judge matter. If he lied about his past actions on national television, and more especially while speaking under oath in front of the United States Senate, I believe those lies should have consequences. It is truth that is at stake, and I believe that the ability to speak the truth, even when it does not reflect well upon oneself, is a paramount quality we seek in our nation’s most powerful judges.”

Kavanaugh has clearly shown himself to be lacking the temperament and integrity that is crucial for one of our country’s highest interpreters of the law. Republicans were willing to put aside one man’s blatant misogyny, proven dishonesty, and lack of respect for others, and elect him president. Should it surprise us, then, that the Republicans maintain their support for Kavanaugh?

Kavanaugh classmate: He has not told the truth | CNN [2018-10-01]

Trump expands scope of FBI probe into Kavanaugh | Fox New [2018-10-01]