The Collegian
Tuesday, August 03, 2021

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OPINION: Amy Coney Barrett's Confirmation

<p>Graphic by Annie Scalet/The Collegian</p>

Graphic by Annie Scalet/The Collegian

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian.

Although I am not surprised that Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed as a Supreme Court judge, I am extremely disappointed. Barrett lacks experience and her views are far too extreme.

I knew that Donald Trump would nominate a conservative justice, of course, but Barrett's confirmation is nonetheless disheartening, especially because her predecessor — the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — was such a champion for women's rights.

During her confirmation hearing, Barrett said that she had turned "over 1,800 pages" of material documenting the past thirty years of her career. At first glance, that seems like a gigantic number but once compared to other justices’ records, it's completely minuscule. Chief Justice John Roberts, for example, had seventy-five thousand pages of records, just from the time he spent in Republican administrations. Brett Kavanaugh, the most recent Justice before Barrett was appointed, had more than one million records of experience. In comparison, Barrett is a complete novice. 

In fact, Barrett, the person now serving on the most powerful court in the country, has never tried a case to verdict or argued an appeal in any court. Her only experience has been in academia. Of course, a lack of experience does not equate to a lack of intelligence. But, take into account that the Supreme Court makes some of the most important and long-lasting decisions to affect our country and Barrett seems extremely unqualified to take on that responsibility.

In addition, the views that Barrett has expressed regarding human rights are still highly concerning. For example, Trump once proposed a public charge rule that would introduce a test determining the likelihood of immigrants using public benefits in the future. Barrett agreed that immigration officials had the right to deny permanent residence or citizenship to immigrants who might need public assistance. In other words, if they did not have enough wealth, they couldn't become citizens. 

Barrett also has a very narrow definition of what kind of danger requires asylum. She decided that a man who had been repeatedly attacked by the MS-13 gang did not need asylum nor did a woman whose children had been held at gunpoint and had been repeatedly threatened.

If these brutal scenarios are not dangerous enough to require asylum, then what is Barrett’s definition of dangerous?  

The point isn't that Supreme Court justices should be lenient with immigration rulings; I understand that every country needs to have immigration laws and policies. However, Barrett's views show that she has an extremely limited list of people she deems are worthy of human empathy. It's a complete dehumanization of people searching for asylum to tell them that their lives are not worth protecting.

Barrett's views on abortions have also been a highly controversial topic. I understand that Barrett is not going to barge into the Supreme Court and immediately overturn Roe v. Wade, if at all. 

However, Barrett herself has said that she intends to increase the restrictions placed on abortion clinics and laws. In other words, although she has no intention to ban abortions outright, she would make them as inaccessible as possible.

In 2012, the Affordable Care Act was expanded to ensure that contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs were covered. Barrett signed a statement that said that those benefits were “an assault on religious liberty and the rights of conscience.” However, religious liberty means that each individual gets to practice their personal religious beliefs. It does not mean that those beliefs can be imposed on other people.

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During her confirmation hearing, Barrett stated that she vehemently believes that a judge's duty to the rule of law supersedes a judge's personal convictions. I hope Barrett follows through on her word.

Contact opinions writer Reda Ansar at reda.ansar@richmond.edu.

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