Report: Trump Picks Amy Coney Barrett for Court

Sept. 25, 2020 — Amy Coney Barrett, 48, a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago since 2017, is President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, according to theNew York Times. If approved, she would replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18.

Trump is expected to make the formal announcement Saturday.

Long viewed as a front-runner for the post, Barrett is a Republican conservative and a practicing Roman Catholic. She and her husband, Jesse, have seven children and live in South Bend, IN. She commutes to Chicago.

A Louisiana native, she earned her bachelor’s degree in English literature from Rhodes College and her law degree from Notre Dame. She clerked for Laurence Silberman at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and then for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

She was in private practice in Washington, D.C., and a fellow at the George Washington University School of Law. For 15 years, she was on faculty at Notre Dame Law School.

With the death of Ginsburg, the Supreme Court currently has 6 men and 2 women justices. Five have been appointed by Republican presidents, regarded as the conservative wing, and three by Democratic presidents, regarded as the liberal wing.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer were appointed by Democratic presidents, while Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh were named by Republican presidents.

Barrett would change the current 5-3 balance of conservatives to liberals to 6-3.

Upcoming Supreme Court Arguments

A case that could determine the future of the Affordable Care Act is among several health-related and equal-rights related cases on the docket when the Supreme Court term begins Oct. 5:

  • California v. Texas, Nov. 10. This case involves the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, signed by President Barack Obama in 2010. In 2018, 20 states filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Texas, challenging the requirement for individuals to have health coverage set down by ACA. It claimed the law was unconstitutional. A district court judge ruled the law invalid. A group of states asked the Supreme Court for review, arguing that there was not a legal right to challenge the law and that the law was not unconstitutional.
  • Fulton vs. City of Philadelphia, Nov. 4. This case dates back to 2018, when the city of Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services investigated two of its foster care provider agents for potential violations of the city anti-discrimination laws. One of the agencies involved, the Catholic Social Services, would not certify same-sex couples as foster parents, so the city stopped referring foster children to the agencies. The agency filed suit, citing violations of its rights under the First Amendment and the state’s Religious Freedom Protection Act. The circuit court denied the request.

Barrett’s Take

With much discussion about how Barrett might vote on controversial cases, here is information on her previous decisions and her interviews about the topics.

Abortion. In an interview in 2016, Barrett talked about the potential for changes to Roe v. Wade. While she does not think the right to abortion would change, she thinks some of the restrictions might. For instance, she says the question might be how much freedom the Supreme Court is willing to let states have in regulating abortion.

Marriage. Barrett signed a letter to a group of Catholic bishops in 2015. In it, the women pledged fidelity to Catholic Church doctrines, including the belief that marriage and family are ”founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman.”

Interpreting the constitution. Barrett is viewed as an originalist. Originalists interpret the Constitution and base their ruling on what they believe the original intents of the Constitution’s authors were. 

Her faith and her duties. In the hearing for Barrett’s nomination for the 7th Circuit, Sen. Dianne Feinstein expressed concern that her devout Catholicism might influence her rulings, saying, “The dogma lives loudly within you.” Barrett emphasized that her faith would not have a bearing on her decisions.

WebMD Health News


SOURCES: “Amy Coney Barrett,” “California v. Texas,” “Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”

Letter to Synod Fathers from Catholic Women, Oct. 1, 2015.

Supreme Court of the United States: “October term 2020.”

Supreme Court of the United States: “Justices.” 

NPR: “Who Is Amy Coney Barrett, Front-Runner For the Supreme Court Nomination?”

New York Times: “Trump Selects Amy Coney Barrett to Fill Ginsburg’s Seat on the Supreme Court.”

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