It's official: Donald Trump has named ultraconservative Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Multiple sources, including The New York Times, had reported Friday that she was his choice. Trump made it official with an announcement from the White House Saturday afternoon. He said she would rule on cases based on the original text of the U.S. Constitution.
"I love the United States, and I love the United States Constitution," Barrett said after Trump made his announcement. She praised the justice she will be replacing (if confirmed), although Barrett's views are diametrically opposed to Ginsburg's.
Barrett is currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which covers Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana; she was confirmed to that post in 2017. She has been a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, a lawyer in private practice, and a clerk to the late, far-right Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Barrett praised Scalia at Saturday's event, saying his judicial philosophy is hers as well, ruling based on the original text of the Constitution. His widow, Maureen Scalia, and his son Eugene Scalia, the secretary of Labor, were present. Also present were Barrett's husband, Jesse Barrett, and their seven children, and she talked extensively about her role as a mother.
Many liberal groups have called her a threat to LGBTQ+ rights, abortion rights, the Affordable Care Act, and more. She has questioned whether it was the Supreme Court’s role to enact marriage equality, suggesting it should have been decided by legislatures state by state. She has also said it “strains the text” of sex discrimination laws to say they apply to anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, although the Supreme Court ruled this year that at least one of them does. And she has said, “The Constitution does not expressly protect a right to privacy,” a statement that has implications for LGBTQ+ rights, abortion rights, and more.
She has written that Catholic judges, such as herself, should not hear cases on certain issues, including abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty, although during confirmation hearings for her appeals court nomination, she said she would follow the law rather than religious doctrine. She and her husband are members of a conservative ecumenical religious group that believes women are to submit to their husbands’ authority.
The Republican-led Senate plans to consider her nomination with less than six weeks to go until the presidential election and when early voting has begun in several states. This comes even though when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the court eight months before the 2016 election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was too close to the election for a vote. Further, Trump has suggested he will contest the results of this year’s election if he doesn’t win, and the Supreme Court could end up deciding that matter. The court is expected to hear cases on the ACA and anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination soon as well.
Several LGBTQ+ and other civil rights groups expressed alarm at the news that Barrett is the nominee.
“If confirmed, Judge Amy Coney Barrett will unleash a Supreme Court majority that is hostile to all of our basic civil rights, and the impact will be felt for decades,” said a statement issued by Lambda Legal CEO Kevin Jennings. “Judge Barrett’s personal belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, coupled with her unwillingness to affirm that the Supreme Court’s decision making marriage equality the law of the land is settled law, should sound the alarm for anyone who cares about LGBTQ people and their families. However, her cramped so-called ‘originalist’ view of the Constitution threatens the civil rights of not just LGBTQ people but a host of others, including women and people of color, who have relied on the courts to make progress in the fight for equality and justice.”
Jennings added, “This unprecedented attempt to confirm a nominee with an election already under way is undemocratic and indefensible.”
Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David released a statement saying, “The last four years have been an assault on the rights and dignity of LGBTQ people across the country, led by Donald Trump, Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell’s prioritization of power over people. While people are suffering across the country, instead of offering aid, Trump and McConnell are rushing through a Supreme Court justice — a justice who could deal a fatal blow to people maintaining their basic health care in the middle of a pandemic. The President has dramatically altered the judiciary to try to dismantle hard-fought rights and progress secured over decades — LGBTQ rights, voting rights, reproductive rights and more. Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell has sycophantically installed Trump’s extreme judicial nominees and is now seeking to push the balance of the Supreme Court even further to the fringes. If she is nominated and confirmed, Coney Barrett would work to dismantle all that Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought for during her extraordinary career. An appointment of this magnitude must be made by the president inaugurated in January. The Human Rights Campaign fervently opposes Coney Barrett’s nomination, and this sham process.”
Added Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveOn Political Action: “The Trump administration and Senate Republicans should be focused on stopping the spread of COVID-19 and providing tens of millions of Americans with needed financial and medical relief. Still, while a majority of the country disagrees with this approach, their priority is packing the court. If the nominee is Amy Coney Barrett, as reported, it would fulfill Trump and McConnell’s scheme to use the court to advance the GOP’s extremist agenda.”
“If confirmed, Amy Coney Barrett will be a vote to undermine hard-won rights critical to all LGBTQ people, women and immigrants. Health care, reproductive rights, our legal rights to marry who we love or not be fired for who we are, are all at risk,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Anti-LGBTQ activists supporting Barrett are wrongly claiming she is being targeted for her religion, when the focus is on her record. Barrett has voted against access to abortion, she has spoken out against LGBTQ rights, she would be the deciding vote to take away health care for millions in the middle of a deadly, out-of-control pandemic. Confirming Barrett will drag America backwards. We cannot allow her to represent President Trump’s bigotry and bullying at the Supreme Court for decades to come.”
The Los Angeles LGBT Center issued a statement saying, “The Center calls on all U.S. Senators to reject the radicalism exemplified by President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. Yet again, Trump has nominated a candidate whose judicial views — as evidenced by her court rulings, speeches, and public statements — place her far outside the mainstream. Barrett’s judicial opinions — ranging from the rejection of protections for the LGBTQ community to extreme views on reasonable gun reforms to limiting the reproductive rights of women — should frighten all people who stand for social justice, and especially those who believe in equality for women and LGBTQ people. The fact that the president would nominate Barrett to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is especially galling. Justice Ginsburg did more than anyone to advance gender equality within the courts, and this nomination should be rightly understood as an affront to women and our allies everywhere. With less than six weeks to go until the election, we urge everyone to call their senators and demand that they reject the nomination of Judge Coney Barrett and insist that the position be left vacant until the next presidential term begins. She is not the right choice for our demographically and culturally diverse country. Not now. Not ever.”
“The unseemly rush to approve a new Supreme Court justice just days after Justice Ginsburg’s death is a naked power grab that demeans our country and democracy,” added Imani Rupert-Gordon, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “After stealing an appointment from President Obama, Senate Republicans have now abandoned their previously stated rule and seek to jam through a Supreme Court nomination in record time, without even a semblance of genuine process. A majority of the American people believe Justice Ginsburg’s replacement should be selected by the winner of the next election, which is already underway. This shameless process is an insult to Justice Ginsburg and to the dignity of the Court. We call on Senators to halt this travesty, respect the wishes of the people, and allow the next president to nominate a new justice to the Court.”