Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States on October 26th, 2020, eight days before the 2020 Presidential Election. Her confirmation tips the scale to the side of conservatism as the Justices now sit 6 to 3 of 9 from a 52-48 vote. Justice Barrett is a proclaimed Constitutional Originalist, which means she’s likely going to be voting on issues that would preserve the Constitutionality of hot-button issues like abortion, gun rights, and immigration. Many Americans are afraid of what a Catholic conservative brings to the nation’s highest court.
During Justice Barrett’s testimony before the House, it was strongly suggested that her devout Catholic faith would make her judgment unduly biased and she would be unable to be impartial during proceedings. Justice Barrett’s protest against the accusation and defense of self was that, as a judge, she would be sworn to follow the letter of the law and take note of previous precedents set before her. This did little to sway her strongest objectors.
Former California Representative Katie Hill posted on Twitter just four days before Justice Barrett was officially nominated, writing, “This isn’t about Catholicism. This isn’t even about religion. This is about extremism.”
Hill went on to tell the New York Times, “[Barrett holds] anti-woman, anti-L.G.B.T.Q. positions, which are rooted in her religion [and it will make up] her decisions on the court.” The implication of these suggestive statements is that Barrett is attempting to establish theocratic rule and this has frightened many members of the LGBTQ community. As a response to the fear that their rights will be revoked, many LGBTQ couples have run to their registrar’s office to be legally married.
Defenders of the newest Justice say that Justice Barrett was nominated and confirmed to the highest court in the land because she has proven herself to judge unbiasedly and stay firm on her reliance on the Constitution. The Supreme Court is part of a necessary foundation of checks and balances to preserve the American way and our Representatives decided, on behalf of the American people, that Justice Barrett was the best candidate for the job when they confirmed her.
While Justice Barrett’s dissenters may say she is a religious extremist, her ruling on the death penalty is clearly in conflict with the Catholic Church. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has called for the end of the death penalty but Justice Barrett voted for the federal execution of Daniel Lewis Lee during her time on the Seventh Circuit just this year. Bishop Denis J. Madden, a retired auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, had encouraged stronger gun registration and background checks. In the case of Kanter v. Bar, Justice Barrett defended an ex-felon’s right to own a firearm in the state of Wisconsin because he had not shown any proclivity towards violence or that he would be a threat to public safety. These are just two examples where, despite what popular opinion is, what would be most convenient, or what is the most in-line with Catholic sentiments, Justice Barrett was willing to stand up to protect American rights strictly on the foundations laid out by the Founders.
Despite the back-and-forth between critics and supporters, Justice Barrett defended herself best during a 2017 Senate hearing: “I would decide cases according to rule of law, beginning to end, and in the rare circumstance that [religious convictions] might ever arise — I can’t imagine one sitting here now — where I felt that I had some conscientious objection to the law, I would recuse. I would never impose my own personal convictions upon the law.”