Amy Coney Barrett, 48, was confirmed on October 26, as the youngest Supreme Court justice in an unprecedented manner. She replaces the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion for women’s rights and equality, as the ninth justice.
Barrett was able to get confirmed just a couple of weeks before the election, an issue that Republicans had during Associate Justice Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearing back in 2016. The justification was that the public should be allowed input by voting for the next president.
Barrett is President Donald Trump’s third Supreme Court justice nominee.
But who is she, and what does she mean for the Supreme Court?
Barrett was born on January 28, 1972, and grew up in a suburban town in New Orleans, Louisiana. Growing up, she received a Catholic education at St. Catherine of Siena elementary school and St. Mary’s Dominican High School.
She graduated Magna cum laude from Tennessee’s Rhodes College with a B.A. in English in 1994. She graduated top of her class from Notre Dame Law School in 1997. Following law school, she clerked for Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals in the D.C. Circuit. She later clerked for her mentor, the late former Associate Justice Antonia Scalia of the Supreme Court, who influenced Barett’s philosophy.
In May 2017, Barrett was nominated by President Donald Trump for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which is comprised of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
During her confirmation hearings, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) pointed to an article Barrett had written that commented that Catholic judges should withdraw from cases surrounding the death penalty and abortion. Feinstein probed whether Barrett’s religious beliefs would influence her ruling, saying: “The dogma lives loudly within you.”
Barret responded to Feinstein’s statement, “If you’re asking whether I take my Catholic faith seriously, I do, though I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear on the discharge of my duties as a judge.”
Barrett was confirmed by a 55-43 vote, with three Democrats voting in favor of her confirmation.
During her three years on the Seventh Circuit, she authored around 100 opinions that reinforced her reputation as a textualist and originalist, a philosophy in which the interpretation of the law is based primarily on the original text of the Constitution or statute and tries to apply the same intention of the framers.
Barrett is a favorite among social conservatives who view her record as anti-abortion rights.
Her opinions include cases on second amendment rights, immigration, sexual assault on campuses, and discrimination in the workplace. Most notable are her rulings dealing with abortion rights.
During her short stint on the Seventh Circuit, Barrett has already viewed two abortion cases and ruled against abortion rights in both of them. A panel of judges blocked a law in Indiana that would make it harder for minors to have an abortion without notifying the parents. Barrett had voted to have the case reheard by the full court, according to AP News.
In 2019’s gun-rights case Kanter v. Barr, Barrett was the only one who objected and argued that Rickey Kanter’s conviction of a nonviolent felony-mail fraud shouldn’t bar him from owning a gun.
Barrett wrote a 37-page opposition to the ruling, citing the history of gun rules for convicted criminals in the 18th and 19th centuries. Her dissent is consistent with interpreting laws and the Constitution according to what the framers had initially intended. “Founding legislatures did not strip felons of the right to bear arms simply because of their status as felons,” she wrote.
Once again, Barrett dissented when Cook County v. Wolf upheld the blockage of the Trump administration policy that would make it difficult for immigrants relying on public assistance, food stamps and Medicaid, to earn permanent resident status. Barrett argued that the courts were “not the vehicle” for resolving controversial policies.
In the case of campus sexual assault, Barrett ruled, in a unanimous decision, to make it easier for men alleged to have committed sexual assaults on campus to challenge the case against them.
A female student at Purdue University alleged that her boyfriend had sexually assaulted her. John Doe, the boyfriend, filed a case against Purdue claiming sex discrimination after he was suspended for a year and his Navy ROTC scholarship was taken away. Barrett wrote that ultimately the case came down to a ‘he said/she said’ scenario.
In 2019, a unanimous decision was made that upheld the dismissal of a workplace discrimination lawsuit filed by Terry Smith, a Black Illinois transportation employee who sued after he was fired, according to AP News. Smith claimed he was called a racial slur by his supervisor Lloyd Colbert.
Barrett wrote that “Smith can’t win simply by proving that the word was uttered. He must also demonstrate that Colbert’s use of this word altered the conditions of his employment and created a hostile or abusive working environment.”
With Barrett’s confirmation, the Supreme Court has firmly tipped to a more conservative ideology, perhaps for decades to come.