Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court Nomination Advanced to Full Senate for Final Vote

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Portraits of individuals who rely on the Affordable Care Act occupy the seats of the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats who boycotted the vote to protest the advancement of Judge Barrett’s confirmation process to the Supreme Court to the Senate.

Mimi Jiang-Yu, Contributing Writer

On Thursday, October 22, 2020, Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced that the committee had unanimously voted to advance Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court Nomination to the U. S. Senate. The Democrats of the committee had boycotted the vote, so Judge Barrett “did not receive a single vote against her nomination.

Senator Graham said of Judge Barrett, “She was challenged, but it was fair.” He continued that during the hearings, “The American people got to see firsthand just how qualified Judge Barrett is to serve on the Supreme Court.” He also thanked his colleagues for “showing up and voting in favor of Judge Barrett,” and stated, “I look forward to her confirmation by the U.S. Senate.”

The committee’s Democrats had a different opinion. During a press conference the same day, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York made it clear that Judge Barrett’s nomination poses a threat to the health care and fundamental rights of Americans. Senator Schumer remarked, “The Senate Republican majority is conducting the most rushed, the most partisan, and the least legitimate nomination to the Supreme Court in our nation’s history.”

Senator Schumer and his fellow Democrats highlighted the many Americans that would be negatively impacted by Judge Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court. While their seats of the committee remained empty, photos of Americans “whose lives will be turned upside down” occupied each seat instead. These Americans are among over 100 million others who would be stripped of health care and protections for pre-existing conditions by Justice Barrett’s decisive vote “to secure the long-held Republican goal of destroying” the Affordable Care Act.

The senator from New York also alluded to abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, minimum wage, and climate. Alongside the faces of the Americans’ who risk losing access to health care were, “the faces of women who cherish the right to make their own private medical decisions,” “the faces of the LGBTQ Americans who want to marry who they love and not be fired for who they are,” “the faces of American workers who are breaking their backs to make ends meet and want their union to help them get a better wage,” and “the faces of young people who know the globe is in peril in their lifetimes.”

The Democrats’ concerns are consistent with Judge Barrett’s strongly conservative views. For one thing, President Trump has made it clear that he is pro-life and intends to appoint justices to overrule Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion. Judge Barrett’s nomination was supported by pro-life groups, and she, herself, remains “skeptical of broad interpretations of abortion rights” in her academic writings. In her home state of Indiana, Judge Barrett has a history of supporting laws restricting abortions.

Regarding health care, Judge Barret criticized Chief Justice Robert’s stance in NFIB v. Sebelius, which allowed the Affordable Care Act to be enacted. She wrote, “Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute,” reasoning, “He constructed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power.” However, when the penalty was removed in 2017 under the Trump administration, the number of people without health insurance increased in both 2018 and 2019.

Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed as a judge on the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on October 31, 2017. She had studied at Rhodes College and Notre Dame Law School before pursuing a career in law. Having taught as a law professor at multiple universities including her alma mater Notre Dame, Judge Barret also clerked for Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit and Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court and whom her conservative legal philosophy mirrors.

Following the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18, 2020, President Trump hastily proceeded to nominate a replacement. On September 26, 2020, the President formally nominated Judge Barrett “to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

Shortly after it was announced that Judge Barrett’s nomination would proceed to the Senate for a final vote, President Trump took to Twitter, proclaiming, “Judiciary Committee approves Judge Barrett. Moves to Senate for final vote. Big day for America!”

Junior Alex Denning, expressing her distaste for Judge Barrett’s potential appointment to the Supreme Court, believes “[Amy Coney Barrett] creates a threat for so many people because she wants to take away their rights.”

Junior John Phillips agreed, stating, “One of the most alarming possibilities following an Amy Coney Barrett confirmation would be that she continues her pattern of making rulings based on her religious morals, which should have no intrinsic connection to law or policy.” Phillips added that Barrett is merely “a political pawn, given her relative lack of experience to most other Supreme Court Justices and nominees.”

Phillips elaborated, “It is abundantly clear that Amy Coney Barrett will make many decisions based on her religious fundamentalism and political affiliation, which is, in theory, the antithesis to the Supreme Court… President Trump is appointing Justices who will accomplish the change he wants to see in the country, rather than those he believes will uphold constitutional values.” 

Emphasizing the weight of the situation, Phillips continued, “The US is already several years behind other first world countries due to lack of universal health care… and Amy Coney Barrett represents the possibility of a reversal of the gay marriage ruling and abortion ruling, which on top of the almost guaranteed repeal of ACA (Affordable Care Act) threatens to plunge the U. S. back into the 20th century.”

Regarding the timing of Barrett’s nomination, Phillips remarked, “I think it’s irresponsible and hypocritical that President Trump is choosing to go through with the nomination so close to Election Day, especially given what happened in 2016 with President Obama and how controversial [Barrett’s] nomination is.”

Junior Emily Conroy agreed, stating, “I don’t think an appointment of a new justice during an election year should have been allowed since in the past it has been restricted.”

Denning also agreed, pointing out that, “The Republican Party has been so hypocritical about the nomination.”