COLUMN: Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment detrimental to women and LGBTQ+ community
Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court leaves women’s and LGBTQ+’s rights in jeopardy.
Nov. 12, 2020
Campbell Biemiller is a first-year journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about politics and entertainment for The Maneater.
Newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett is putting the lives of women and the LGBTQ+ community in danger by limiting the rights that minority communities have fought so hard for.
Barrett identifies as an originalist. Originalists focus on the text of the Constitution under the Founding Fathers’ intentions to resolve legal disputes. She favors the beliefs of the First Amendment and human rights as they were originally conceived centuries ago. However, Barrett’s outdated views aren’t compatible with our society today.
“I tend to agree with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks clearly in conflict with it,” Barrett wrote while at Notre Dame Law School.
By saying this, Barrett emphasizes interpreting the 233-year-old document as it was written is more important than caring for the people. It ignores the fact that, over the last couple of centuries, society has changed and the government with it. Changing the Constitution by adding amendments to the original document can’t fully support modern-day America due to the vast amount of social changes since the eighteenth century.
Separation of church and state is important in that it protects both freedom of religion and freedom from state-sponsored religious persecution. Barrett’s failure to separate church and state embodies her incompetence as a justice.
“[Catholic judges] are obliged by oath, professional commitment, and the demands of citizenship to enforce the death penalty. They are also obliged to adhere to their church’s teaching on moral matters,” Barrett said in an article for the Marquette Law Review. Barrett’s statement means she feels Catholic judges must follow religious teachings in legal matters.
Barrett’s adherence to Catholic religious beliefs within her positions are a concern for many. If political figures intertwine their religious philosophies with decisions made for the entire country, they fail to consider what is best for a nominally secular population and government. Just over 20% of the U.S. is Catholic according to a study by Pew Research Center. For Barrett to decide legislation for 100% of the population when she religiously represents only a fifth of the population isn’t acceptable.
Barrett has mentioned that she relates to the late justice Antonin Scalia’s judicial philosophies. While Scalia was alive, he actively argued to overrule Roe v. Wade because the Constitution doesn’t explicitly discuss abortions, and he believes states should be able to make that decision.
Roe v. Wade was decided on the right to privacy, which encompasses more than abortion. Privacy protects civil liberties because it allows a person to have some autonomy in their actions and life choices without government influence. An absence of privacy prompts a universal decline in civil rights. With Barrett’s standings in abortion and gay rights, she is working toward restricted privacy and therefore less civil rights.
Evidently, Barrett’s opposition to the LGBTQ+ community shows through her work with People of Praise, an organization that’s openly anti-abortion and expels members for gay sex. It portrays her work with the Alliance Defending Freedom, America’s largest anti-LGBTQ legal organization.
At People of Praise, Barrett worked as a “handmaid” which later was renamed to “woman leader” which is an advisor who acts as a life coach to members, according to American Magazine.
Former members of People of Praise have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse from when they were children in the organization according to the Cut. These ex-members described situations of “emotional torment” through extremely restricted cultural practices.
Alliance Defending Freedom believes “each person must play his or her particular role, under one shared vision, to ensure that religious freedom thrives.” This suggests a universal shared vision under the Christian faith that traditionally goes against LGBTQ+ rights. ADF has a history of suing states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that made efforts to provide equal civil rights for LGBTQ+ people, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Barrett’s involvement once again supports anti-LGBTQ+ agendas.
Barrett was able to get to her current position of political power because of the work people like late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did for women’s rights. With Barrett as justice, she is reversing the work so many did to get her to her prominent standing by being anti-feminist, anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+.
Despite Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish to be replaced after the 2020 presidential election, Trump nominated Barrett, who shifted the Supreme Court from a 5-4 conservative majority to a 6-3 supermajority. The beginnings of a conservative powerhouse created by Trump imply that these officials are considering rights as political game pieces rather than considering how such maneuvering affects underrepresented people.
It’s disappointing to see people of power reversing our country’s advancements in civil liberties. The work Trump has done and Amy Coney Barrett will do is disgraceful because of their selfish lack of concern for human life.
The underlying issue is that modern-day problems require modern-day solutions. The Constitution needs to evolve with the American public as society moves forward. For a successful and inclusive government, Barrett would need to separate her personal values from the country’s, which she has made clear she won’t do over the years she’s been a political figure. Her election as justice will be a let-down to these underrepresented communities.
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Edited by Sofi Zeman | firstname.lastname@example.org