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Why Amy Coney Barrett is Eligible for Office
Finn Broder '23 Staff Writer
October 31, 2020

Most Americans agree that this year’s election will shape the United States for decades to come. So many hot-button issues are on the ballot this fall: the environment, the preservation of American capitalism, the rights of the unborn, how best to fully pursue the dreams of Martin Luther King Jr., and much more. When you add the makeup of the Supreme Court to this list, a polarized society sinks further into turmoil.

On September 18, President Donald Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court of the United States, despite the opposition of many Democrats. Barrett is exceptionally qualified to serve as a Supreme Court Justice, and she should be confirmed in the Senate, bipartisanly, for that reason alone.

For starters, Barrett leads an impressive personal life. She is currently raising seven children as a working mother, two of which are adopted children from the nation of Haiti and one who suffers from Down syndrome. While it is worth noting that Barrett is a devout and faithful Roman Catholic, her religious beliefs should not and would not influence her confirmation hearings or her judicial work. Some liberals and opponents of Barrett have criticized her involvement with People of Praise, a nonprofit Christian group. However, this criticism is less effective, as it weaponizes the nominee’s widely-held religious views to personally attack her.

Barrett has also set herself apart as a distinguished legal mind and a well-liked colleague and professor throughout her lengthy career. She served as a clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, a former Supreme Court icon who maintained a close friendship with Ginsburg before his 2016 passing, despite their opposing viewpoints. This bond between Scalia and Ginsburg is evidence that a divided Supreme Court is not always bad news for America. While Barrett may not fill the liberal role that Ginsburg played on the Court, she has garnered accolades from conservatives and liberals alike. 

For example, when Barrett became a law professor at her alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, she was awarded “Distinguished Professor of the Year” three times. She earned this award through votes of support, and many of her more liberal colleagues over the years have defended her character and qualifications in the weeks since Trump officially nominated her on September 26.

Regarding Barrett’s confirmation process, merely minutes after the news broke that Ginsburg had passed away, Republican politicians took to social media platforms to mourn her sudden death while also looking ahead to ensure that her empty seat would be filled in a timely manner. According to the general interpretation of the United States Constitution, the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the Supreme Court…” U.S. Const. art. 2 § 2, cl. 2.

Democrats also expressed much grief and emotion following Ginsburg’s passing. However, politicians, such as the former President Barack Obama and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, immediately pointed to Republican efforts to block Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in 2016 as their reason for why Trump should only nominate a potential justice if he defeats Former Vice President Joe Biden this November. In 2016, just months before that year’s general election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to withhold Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, from receiving a vote in the Senate.

The issue with the Democratic logic, however, is that Obama had known since 2012 that he would become a lame-duck President prior to the inauguration of the next President in January, 2017, regardless of which political party the new President-elect belonged to. This is because no President of the United States is legally permitted to serve more than two four-year terms in office, and Obama served a full eight years. Historically, lame-duck politicians have proven to enact more controversial policies, including questionable Supreme Court nominations, as they no longer need to concern themselves with support from voters.

On the flip side, Trump may win a second term in the upcoming election. Nobody can be certain that he will become a lame-duck President within the next couple of months, and it is evident that he is still working to gain the support of as many voters as possible. Nominating a Justice on an irrational basis, unlike Obama’s case in 2016, would have severe repercussions on Trump’s reelection campaign.

One does not have to agree with Barrett’s ideals and past judicial decisions, but people from all sides of the political aisle should acknowledge and praise her achievements and qualifications. This is an opportunity for Americans to unite in celebrating Barrett’s selflessness as a mother and brilliance as a professor and judge.