Amy Coney Barrett, Legal Precedent And Catholicism On The Supreme Court

If Trump selects her, Barrett will be the first woman nominated by a Republican president in 13 years.

Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court
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If Trump selects her, Barrett will be the first woman nominated by a Republican president in 13 years.

At the age of 46, conservative, religious and a mother of seven, Amy Coney Barrett made President Trump’s shortlist of potential Supreme Court nominees to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

If Trump selects her, Barrett will be the first woman nominated by a Republican president in 13 years. If Congress approves her nomination, she will become the second woman to be picked by a conservative president and appointed to the Supreme Court after Sandra O’Connor, who took her seat on the coveted bench in 1981.

O’Connor, however, let down many conservatives when she voted to uphold Roe in the 1993 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Today, the iconic Roe ruling has again lunged in the spotlight with some pundits pondering over the probability of overturning the right to abortion once another conservative judge is added to the Supreme Court.

Barrett, who currently serves on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, seems to have, albeit perhaps unwittingly, stoked some of the speculations that Roe may crumble down. The LA Times reported on a 2013 law review article she penned on stare decisis, or the tenet of legal precedent, and judicial discord.

“If anything, the public response to controversial cases like Roe reflects public rejection of the proposition that stare decisis can declare a permanent victor in a divisive constitutional struggle rather than desire that precedent remain forever unchanging,” Barrett wrote. “Court watchers embrace the possibility of overruling, even if they may want it to be the exception rather than the rule.”

On Monday, when Trump interviewed four potential picks for the highest court, including Barrett, Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat, took to Twitter to share his take on her candidacy.

Despite her relatively recent ascent and popularity in legal circles, some argue that Barrett lacks an extensive record of written opinions to appease Republicans who seek a weighty assertion of the next Supreme Court Justice’ conservative sway. Such a prerequisite comes as no surprise given the tendencies of O’Connor and Kennedy, both of whom Ronald Reagan nominated, to swing across ideological lines.

Barrett, a formal Notre Dame Law professor, however, possesses a public notoriety, which is absent from the profiles of other Supreme Court contenders. Last year, Barrett made headlines when Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein questioned her religiosity during a hearing for her 7th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmation.

“The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that people have fought for years in this country,” Feinstein told Barrett.

And yet, it is Barrett’s Catholic views – and Feinstein’s attack on them – that have endeared her to religious conservatives as an obvious and prudent choice for the Supreme Court.