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Amy Coney Barrett: Religion v. Politics

By Emily Cortes

When Biden and Obama left office in 2017, Trump claimed they left over 100 judiciary seats open within the U.S. courts, and Trump will soon choose his third Supreme Court justice during his first presidential term. According to APNews.com, their fact checker stated that although 128 seats remained open in the courts when Obama left office, “Instead, unprecedented lack of action by the Republican-controlled Senate on Obama’s judicial nominees in his last two years in office left Trump more vacancies to fill.”

Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s latest Supreme Court Pick is a federal appeals court judge, and was also a professor of law at Notre Dame. She obviously has a conservative background, having been on Trump’s radar to fill the seat. and could have a biased philosophy towards interpreting the law. 

On Monday, Oct. 12th, the hearing will begin on Barrett’s nomination. Barrett has also published many writings during her time in academia, and many of those writings pertain to her ideas on religion and law. She is a self proclaimed Catholic, and putting anyone on the supreme court to have power over constitutional interpretation must be aware that the constitution was written with separation of church and state in mind. Not that having a supreme court judge who is religious and lives out her life actively practicing her faith, we run into societal problems when people of different faiths are meant to coexist under one judicial system. 

Intertwining faith and government brings attention to issues like the overturning of Roe v. Wade, granting women the right to a first trimester abortion under the Due Process and privacy clauses written in the fourteenth amendment. However, when Barrett took her position in the circuit court of appeals, she claimed her faith would not influence her views on the law. 

In the case of Kanter v. Barr, the circuit court of appeals denied a man’s claim that he should own a firm arm, even though he is a convicted criminal, and owning a gun as a convicted felon is against both Wisconsin state law and federal law. Barrett concluded that the man did deserve the right to own a gun, since the crime committed was mail fraud, and the law strives for us to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous fellows. If a felon commits a non violent crime, they have the right to still exercise the second amendment since they have no prior record of reckless violence. She was the only one to dissent on this case.

Before the 2016 election, Barrett spoke at the University of Jacksonville to discuss how she believed Roe v. Wade could potentially change in the future. She stated, “…women have a right to an abortion – I don’t think that would change. But I think the question of whether people can get very late-term abortions, how many restrictions can be put on clinics – I think that would change.” 

This calls into question, how late is too late term for an abortion to be performed? Are we going to result back to the state level and have women’s health issues under state’s protection, or are we going to have abortion outlawed completely at the federal level? It’s not like Amy Cohen Barrett can decide these things on her own, her opinion can only be given when asked in a court case, however, legal jargon is tedious and very difficult for most people to understand in its entirety. This type of language makes it possible for all of SCOTUS to interpret a law with personal opinions and outside forces influencing the final decision, but have to be cited within the constitution or the individual law itself, therefore their reasoning isn’t followed by their personal beliefs, it’s cited to the already written law. 

Not only do Barrett’s personal decisions and motives have a significant impact on the law of this country, but if she is elected as Supreme Court Justice, she will accompany five other Catholic justices. Coming from a catholic family and studying, not practicing, the religion for 14 years, many of the general beliefs like give to the poor, help the less fortunate, and do unto others are excellent examples to lead by especially with respect to societal laws to ensure everyone is safe and successful. However, different ideologies impact people’s opinions on how society should be run and what is an acceptable way for people to act, and what is deemed unacceptable. 

Trump also stated during his rant at the first presidential debate, that he has been president for four years. An entire term doesn’t end after voting day. Whether Barrett is nominated before or after Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, or at all, we are going to feel the effects of her ideals for roughly the next 50 years.

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