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Sunday, October 25, 2020

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Student organizations respond to Barrett nomination

<p>The tower at the Boatwright Memorial Library rises through the air, embracing the campus' landscape</p>

The tower at the Boatwright Memorial Library rises through the air, embracing the campus' landscape

The Senate confirmation process to decide whether Judge Amy Coney Barrett will become the next Supreme Court justice started on Oct. 12 and has raised concerns among some members of student organizations at the University of Richmond.  

Representatives for Girl Up* UR, Planned Parenthood Generation Action UR and Spiders Against Sexual Assault and Violence said they disapproved of President Donald Trump’s nomination of Barrett to replace late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

Members of the organizations cited Barrett’s religious beliefs associated with the People of Praise — a Christian group that opposes same-sex marriage — and previous rulings as antithetical to their organizations’ goals.

UR's Planned Parenthood Generation Action finds the possibility of Barrett limiting abortion rights concerning, said sophomore Violet Jetton, vice president of education for Planned Parenthood Generation Action.

“Our values as an organization with regard to reproductive rights just do not align with [Barrett's] at all,” she said. “And she's continuously advocated for limiting abortion rights in her seat [on] the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Barrett has expressed her pro-life stance multiple times. She joined an anti-abortion-rights faculty group at the University of Notre Dame, where she taught constitutional law, and gave a lecture to the Right to Life club at Notre Dame, according to The Atlantic. Barrett also added her name to a letter that appeared on the South Bend Tribune criticizing Roe v. Wade, according to The Atlantic article. 

But Barrett has not stated her position on whether she would overturn Roe v. Wade as a Supreme Court justice in the Senate confirmation hearings, according to The Hill

Girl Up* president and sophomore Phuong Anh Dinh said that although members of Girl Up* had not met to discuss the organization's stance on Barrett’s nomination, she personally opposed it. 

“I've been reading a lot about her and her past stances on abortion, gay marriages, immigration rules...and I think she stands against everything that I care about,” Dinh said. “It's also important to look at this in an intersectional look [taking into consideration state regulations on abortion]. So, for example, she opposes abortion, but it's important to recognize that reproductive justice is already not available to a lot of people. ... There are already a lot of restrictions on reproductive health care for a lot of people who identify as women."

Protection of LGBTQ+ rights has also been called into question with Barrett’s nomination. Dinh, Jetton and Mickey said Barrett's involvement with the People of Praise as a handmaid, a leadership position for women in the group, made them scared that the Supreme Court would have a conservative tilt.

A conservative tilt on the court could amplify the opinions of Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote an opinion on Oct. 5 stating that the Supreme Court's decision on Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage, misinterpreted the rights given by the Fourteenth Amendment, according to the opinion.

“As much as we want to believe that judges are neutral, it's hard to not be influenced by your identities — like religious beliefs, right?” Dinh said. “I just find it concerning how [Barrett is] part of one of the religious cults that has been focused on opposing gay marriage and reinforcing the patriarchy.”

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Members from the organizations also shared their concerns regarding the future of the Affordable Care Act.

SASAV co-president and junior Sam Mickey mentioned the coming Nov. 10 hearing of a Texas-led lawsuit to invalidate the Affordable Care Act

“As college students, until the age of 26 under Obamacare we're still able to be on our parents’ health insurance,” said Mickey. “A more conservative ruling on this decision could lead to millions of Americans losing their health care, so that's really scary.”

Mickey also said SASAV members were concerned and upset about Barrett’s stance on Title IX protections for transgender students. In a 2016 lecture at Jacksonville University, Barrett said the Supreme Court’s decision to allow transgender students to use their desired bathroom was a stretch of the Title IX protections, according to a recording of the lecture posted on YouTube

The COVID-19 pandemic has limited the ability of UR student organizations to hold events or help specific presidential or local campaigns, as they did in previous years. 

During Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, SASAV held a tabling event where students could write letters of support to Christine Ford, who alleged Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, Mickey said. However, because of COVID-19 regulations, SASAV has not held any in-person meetings or events this semester, Mickey said. 

But SASAV is planning on hosting a sexual assault survivor-supportive in-person event after the Nov. 3 election, Mickey said. 

Planned Parenthood Generation Action held its first meeting on Monday and is currently working on collaborating with UR College Democrats to do phone banking, a form of outreach where volunteers call potential voters, Jetton said. 

“[The election] is closing in pretty quickly, so we want to get on that fast,” she said. “But that's the main thing that we feel that we can do. It's a little bit tough. Last semester we were able to do more things out in the community like people could go canvassing.”

Yesterday was the last day of Barrett's confirmation hearing, and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is majority Republican, have scheduled the vote on whether Barrett should be confirmed for Oct. 22.

Contact news editor Jackie Llanos at jackie.llanos@richmond.edu. 

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