Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who had her first sit-downs with senators Tuesday, has impressed congressional Republicans by redefining feminism, they said.
A working mother of seven school-age children who rose to the top of the legal ladder, Judge Barrett balanced life as a classroom mother while handing down rulings as a federal circuit court judge.
“As a nominee for our nation’s highest court, Judge Barrett is an example to girls and young women in Iowa, and across America, that they truly can do it all,” said Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, one of the first female Republicans to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Judge Barrett visited Capitol Hill for senators to get to know her, both personally and professionally. She is scheduled to spend the next few days meeting with senators who are willing to take time to get to know President Trump’s third nominee to the high court.
“Judge Barrett is brilliant,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said after he met with the president’s nominee. “This nominee could not be more fully qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.”
If confirmed, Judge Barrett will be the fifth woman to sit on the court but the first to do so while having school-age children.
A devout Catholic, Judge Barrett also provides Christian conservative women one of their own as a new feminist leader for young women.
“For decades now — it’s been 40 years — we have heard the discussion as having role models for women on the Supreme Court. We are so eager to now have a role model for our daughters — a woman who is a constitutionalist and a conservative,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America.
Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, said the judge embodies the broad spectrum of American women.
“She is a new role model for women instead of the one size fits all.”
Her opponents see that as a negative.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said the judge would put women’s reproductive freedom in danger.
“A far-right majority on the court could turn back the clock,” Mr. Schumer said.
Mr. McConnell mocked that claim from the chamber floor.
“This 48-year-old working mother is going to turn back the clock on women’s rights, so says the Democratic leader,” Mr. McConnell said.
Senate Republicans say they have the votes to move forward with Judge Barrett’s nomination. They plan to hold hearings the week of Oct. 12 and a confirmation vote in the full chamber before the end of October — just days before the Nov. 3 elections.
Several Democrats said they won’t meet with Judge Barrett. They say the president who wins the election should fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon.
They also accused Republicans of rushing to confirm someone so the high court can strike down the Affordable Care Act, which comes before the court Nov. 10, and give Mr. Trump an edge if a contested presidential election ends up in the Supreme Court.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, closed her door to the judge. She said a face-to-face meeting would “lend legitimacy to Mitch McConnell’s efforts to steal another Supreme Court seat.”
“She’s an extremist who was picked to overturn Roe v. Wade, rubber-stamp Trump’s attacks on immigrants, strip away voting rights, and complete the decadeslong assault on our judiciary by billionaires and giant corporations to tilt the courts in their favor,” Ms. Warren said. “Too many lives are on the line. We need to treat this nomination like the illegitimate power grab it is.”
Despite the tough talk from Ms. Warren, Democrats are painfully aware of potential political blowback if they are seen as beating up on a sympathetic character such as Judge Barrett.
That makes it unlikely that voters will see a repeat of the type of ambush that met Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearings.
Marge Baker, executive vice president for the progressive People for the American Way, stressed that Democrats’ opposition to Judge Barrett isn’t personal, but instead a pushback on Mr. Trump’s reasons for appointing certain nominees to the federal bench.
“He made it clear that litmus tests for his judicial appointments, especially to the Supreme Court, are twofold: overturning Roe and overturning the ACA, so you put two and two together,” she said.
Democrats also demanded that Judge Barrett, if confirmed, recuse herself from any Supreme Court ruling on the presidential election.
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, told reporters that the nominee must be confirmed before the election so she can weigh in on legal challenges if disputes arise in critical states.
“Joe Biden has already stated that if he doesn’t win he intends to contest the legitimacy of the election. If we see multiple cases of challenging the election, if the court were to have only eight justices. It could divide 4-4,” he said. “That would be an untenable situation.”
Judge Barrett also met Tuesday with Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, among other Republican leaders.
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Amy Coney Barrett tapped for Supreme Court, vows to serve American people
President Trump announced his nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court on Saturday, teeing up an epic confirmation battle during the final stretch of the 2020 presidential race. The nomination of Judge Barrett is Mr. Trump’s third Supreme Court appointee — the most of any president since Ronald Reagan — and potentially…
President Trump announced his nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court on Saturday, teeing up an epic confirmation battle during the final stretch of the 2020 presidential race.
The nomination of Judge Barrett is Mr. Trump’s third Supreme Court appointee — the most of any president since Ronald Reagan — and potentially tilts the high court’s balance dramatically in favor of conservatives for years to come.
Judge Barrett would be the youngest justice on the high court at 48 years old, taking the seat left vacant after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week.
The president honored Justice Ginsburg, calling her a legend. He said Judge Barrett is a towering legal mind who has a strong “loyalty” to the Constitution.
“This is my third such nomination after Justice [Neil] Gorsuch and Justice [Brett M.] Kavanaugh, and it is a very proud moment indeed,” Mr. Trump said in the White House Rose Garden with more than 150 people in attendance.
“I looked and I studied and you are very eminently qualified for this job. You are going to be fantastic,” the president said to Judge Barrett.
He urged congressional Democrats to be respectful of his pick, referring to the controversial hearing of his second nominee, Justice Kavanaugh.
If confirmed, Judge Barrett would be the fifth woman to serve on the Supreme Court and the second to be nominated by a Republican president. Reagan-appointee Sandra Day O’Connor was the first.
“I love the United States and I love the United States Constitution. I am truly humbled by the prospect of serving on the Supreme Court,” Judge Barrett said. “I will be mindful of who came before me.”
The judge praised the late Justice Ginsburg’s impact on women in the legal profession and praised her friendship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia, despite their being on different sides of the political spectrum.
“If confirmed, I would not assume that role for the sake of those in my own circle and certainly not for my own sake. I would assume this role to serve you,” she said to the American people.
The appointment gives Republicans the opportunity to expand the 5-4 conservative majority on the court to 6-3, a swing that outrages Democrats who say the president has broken precedent to rush the nomination of Judge Barrett with just 37 days until the Nov. 3 presidential election.
As soon as news broke of Judge Barrett’s pending nomination, the first shots of the confirmation fight rang out, with liberal activists calling her a threat to abortion rights and health care and conservatives praising her for being a thoughtful jurist.
Judge Barrett sits on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and was a favorite of social conservatives to fill a vacancy in 2018 after Justice Anthony Kennedy retired, but the president ultimately nominated Justice Kavanaugh.
She is a devout Catholic and taught at Notre Dame Law School, where she also attended and graduated at the top of her class, before her nomination to the 7th Circuit to fill a seat on the federal bench belonging to Indiana.
Her faith became a sticking point for Democrats during her confirmation hearing for the appeals court seat when they raised questions about if she could separate her duty as a Catholic — and the church’s pro-life teaching — from her judicial responsibilities.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, said the “dogma” lived loudly within her — a statement that has become a rallying cry for conservatives who say that Judge Barrett will be a strong jurist who would uphold the U.S. Constitution as written.
The eight justices currently on the high court include five Catholics: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor and Kavanaugh. Justice Gorsuch was raised Roman Catholic but is now Episcopalian.
The other justices, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, are Jewish.
Judge Barrett has a judicial reputation for being an “originalist” and a “textualist,” similar to the late Justice Scalia, for whom she clerked after she graduated from law school.
The Senate confirmed her to the 7th Circuit by a 55-43 vote on Oct. 31, 2017. Three Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia — voted with Republicans in support of the judge.
This time, though, Mr. Donnelly is no longer in the Senate, after being voted out in 2018. Mr. Kaine and Mr. Manchin have said they don’t support the president filling the seat this close to an election — saying the winner of the election should fill the vacancy.
Despite the pushback from congressional Democrats, Senate Republicans have vowed to swiftly move forward with the president’s pick ahead of Election Day. It’s possible Judge Barrett could be confirmed at the end of October — nearly three years to the day the Senate voted to confirm her to the 7th Circuit.
In that time, the judge has weighed in on legal disputes involving the Second Amendment, immigration and due process.
She disagreed with a panel decision to uphold a law that prohibited a convicted felon from possessing a firearm, even though the felon was nonviolent and had been convicted of mail fraud.
The judge also dissented from a majority ruling on the 7th Circuit that issued an injunction halting the president’s “public charge rule” that increased the requirements for a noncitizen to obtain a green card.
In 2019, Judge Barrett reinstated a lawsuit brought by a male college student who had been suspended after facing accusations of sexual assault by Purdue University. The student had sued the school, arguing he was discriminated against based on his sex and was unable to cross-examine the alleged victim and present evidence in his defense, upending his rights to due process. Judge Barrett and the 7th Circuit panel sided with the student and allowed his case against the school to move forward.
The “Me Too” issue is likely to come up during her confirmation hearing, as it’s been an issue raised by Senate Democrats who have peppered Mr. Trump’s judicial picks with questions involving women’s rights and decades-old sexual misconduct allegations that were never proven.
Progressive groups have also raised concerns about religious liberty and the issue of abortion.
They have charged that the judge would damage the Affordable Care Act, which is before the court in a case scheduled for Nov. 10.
“From day one, President Trump has made clear that he would only nominate justices to the Supreme Court who would vote to take down the Affordable Care Act, and now with 200,000 Americans already dead, President Trump is jamming through a Supreme Court justice who will take away America’s health care in the middle of this pandemic — because one week after the election, the Supreme Court will hear his lawsuit to completely dismantle the ACA,” said Leslie Dach, chairwoman of Protect Our Care.
Aimee Allison, the founder of the liberal women’s group She the People, said Judge Barrett would be a “detriment to our democracy” if confirmed.
“Judge Amy Coney Barrett in no way fills the immense void Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg left on our highest court. She is favored among Trump-loyal conservatives, and her judicial record makes it clear she would be solidly opposed to abortion rights and inclined, even eager, to reverse Roe v. Wade, and the Affordable Care Act,” Ms. Allison said.
“If confirmed, right-wing judicial activist Barrett would reshape the law and society for generations to come. She is a detriment to our democracy,” she added.
During her appeals court confirmation hearing in 2017, Judge Barrett vowed to follow precedent as an appeals courtjudge.
Conservative groups have cheered Mr. Trump’s pick, praising Judge Barrett’s judicial philosophy.
“She is a rock-solid conservative, who demonstrated in her hearing for the Seventh Circuit that she has a backbone of steel. Judge Barrett is young, brilliant, and exceptionally well-qualified. And she is an everyday American from the Heartland, who is a working mother of seven children — including a child with disabilities and two children adopted from Haiti,” said Mike Davis, president of the Article III Project, which backs Mr. Trump’s judicial nominees.
Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden urged Senate Republicans to hold off on processing the president’s nominee, hoping he would win in November and be the president to fill the seat.
“President Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the successor to Justice Ginsburg’s seat. She has a written track record of disagreeing with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. She critiqued Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion upholding the law in 2012,” Mr. Biden said.
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