Americans dedicated to protecting life and religious freedom are celebrating President Donald Trump’s choice of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood manager-turned pro-life activist, said:
This is the moment that the pro-life movement and those who hold all life to be dear and treasured have been waiting for. This is the fight we are more than prepared to win. And this is a movement led in large part by strong, faithful women, just like Amy Coney Barrett, who have fought hard to get to where they are now. It’s our time.”
Pro-life and faith leaders say Barrett’s reputation as having both a sharp legal mind that focuses intently on the Constitution as the framers intended, and a personal life that reflects her commitment to respect for the dignity of all human life, is a winning combination.
“She is the perfect combination of brilliant jurist and a woman who brings the argument to the court that is potentially the contrary to the views of the sitting women justices,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, told the New York Times.
Respect for Barrett as a law professor and legal scholar has already been immense.
Amy Howe wrote at SCOTUSblog about the acclaim Barrett received when Trump nominated her in 2017 to the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit:
A group of 450 former students signed a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, telling senators that their support was “driven not by politics, but by the belief that Professor Barrett is supremely qualified.” And she had the unanimous support of her 49 Notre Dame colleagues, who wrote that they had a “wide range of political views” but were “united however in our judgment about Amy.”
The National Catholic Register’s Joan Frawley Desmond interviewed Notre Dame law professor O. Carter Snead, a friend of Barrett’s, when it became clear she was among the top candidates for the open Supreme Court seat.
“There is no one more qualified to be on the Supreme Court in terms of her accomplishments, intellect, and integrity,” he said. “That is a widely shared view at Notre Dame.”
Anticipating more of the hostility already expressed by some on the left, however, Snead added, “People are anxious, and they don’t want their friend to go through a savage process. It is a politically fraught moment.”
Mat Staver, chairman of Christian litigation firm Liberty Counsel, asserted Trump’s nomination of Barrett “is the right choice for the U.S. Supreme Court because she applies the intent and text of the Constitution to the statutes she reviews.”
“A judge should be a neutral interpreter of the Constitution who knows what it means to interpret and apply the law rather than an activist legislator who tries to create the law,” he said.
Prior to the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week, the issue of abortion was already central to the 2020 election. Trump’s pro-life administration has made significant headway in stemming the radical feminist view that ending unborn lives at will is acceptable.
With the nomination of Barrett, however, the issue of abortion will likely be magnified further.
If this is true, then Trump is doing exactly what he promised: nominating someone who puts Roe v Wade and the ACA at risk and threatens the progress RBG fought for her entire career — and we won’t stand for it.
— Planned Parenthood Action – Text WeDecide to 22422 (@PPact) September 25, 2020
Since her appointment to the court of appeals, Barrett has dealt with state abortion law on two occasions, both by supporting appeals for the full bench to rehear a case decided by a three-judge panel.
In 2018, Barrett joined Judge Frank Easterbrook’s dissent from the denial of rehearing by the full court of appeals in the case of a challenge to an Indiana law that would both ban abortions based on race, sex, or disability, and also require fetal remains to be either buried or cremated following an abortion.
The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately heard the case of a challenge to the law by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) and the ACLU. Planned Parenthood claimed the new law placed undue burden on a woman’s right to choose an abortion and that it violated women’s privacy since the group does not ask women the reason for seeking an abortion.
Regarding the mandate to bury or cremate aborted babies, Planned Parenthood said such a requirement introduces further costs for medical waste.
The High Court affirmed the Indiana fetal remains provision, but declined to weigh in on the ban on abortions based on race, sex, or disability, which Judge Easterbrook referred to, in the dissent, as a means of preventing prospective parents from “[u]sing abortion as a way to promote eugenic goals.”
Thus, the Seventh Circuit’s ruling that struck down the ban on abortions for reasons of race, sex, or disability left the state unable to enforce that part of the law.
In 2019, Barrett again wanted the full Seventh Circuit to hear the challenge to an Indiana law that required parental notification for minors who wished to have an abortion, after a three-judge panel said the law was unconstitutional.
Barrett joined the dissent from the denial of rehearing, in which Judge Michael Kanne wrote, “[p]reventing a state statute from taking effect is a judicial act of extraordinary gravity in our federal structure.”
When Indiana asked the Supreme Court to weigh in, the case was sent back to the lower courts.
While she was teaching law at Notre Dame, Barrett also publicly disagreed with the contraceptive mandate, the provision of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that required birth control to be freely accessible to all women without copay.
The statement protested what the Obama administration said was an “accommodation” for those who claimed the contraceptive mandate violated their faith beliefs. The signers, however, asserted the “‘accommodation’ changes nothing of moral substance and fails to remove the assault on religious liberty and the rights of conscience which gave rise to the controversy”:
The simple fact is that the Obama administration is compelling religious people and institutions who are employers to purchase a health-insurance contract that provides abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization. This is a grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand. It is an insult to the intelligence of Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims and other people of faith and conscience to imagine that they will accept an assault on their religious liberty if only it is covered up by a cheap accounting trick.
Appearing as a guest at Family Research Council Action’s Values Voter Summit Friday evening, Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, said Barrett is “an incredible role model for me as a mother and a lawyer to see all that she has accomplished in her life.”
“She’s been a clerk to Justice Scalia – by many accounts one of his favorite clerks – right in her style and approach to the law, really follows after his commitment to the law as it’s written in the text,” she explained.
Severino went on about Barrett’s personal life, which, to many, appears to bear out her own commitment to life:
She is a mother of seven children … And two of those children were adopted from Haiti, and … she’s told the story of how this happened she adopted one child, they thought maybe they were trying to work through another adoption they didn’t think they were going to be able to have any more children biologically, and then just as they learned that this adoption was finally going to go through … she learned that, against all odds, she was pregnant … She said later she was praying about it, ‘You know, there’s nothing more important in my life that I could do than raise these children,” and then went on to do so. One of her biological children also has Down syndrome. So, she has been really living her life in an act of generosity and in kind of just showing again she’s just such a role model for young women.
Pro-life activist Johnson, who delivered a groundbreaking address in August at the Republican National Convention that bared the violence of abortion and the stark choice facing Americans in the upcoming election, said the president’s nomination of Barrett shows he is continuing to fulfill “the promises he made during his first campaign to nominate justices that would be faithful to the Constitution.”
Anticipating attacks on Barrett’s faith from the left, Johnson added:
For those who plan to make Barrett’s faith a matter of disqualification, that line of attack is not only inappropriate and bigoted, but bases the nominee’s entire judicial career on everything but her merits and solid qualifications for the position. Americans will recognize when those who claim to fight for women turn around and attack and bully Amy Coney Barrett because they don’t like what she stands for.
Dannenfelser reflected on the meaning of Barrett’s nomination during Family Research Council Action’s Values Voter Summit this week.
“We are at the precipice of the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” the pro-life leader said, adding Trump is “so proud of that and we should be proud of that too”:
It means that the unraveling and the overturning of Roe v. Wade could lead to states being emboldened to allow the consensus in those states on abortion, to make their way into law. Of course, there should always be a national consensus on this, there is a national consensus, but the first step right now is the unraveling of Roe and saving millions of children for decades. It is just that important, and it will be decided in 41 days.
Dannenfelser summarized there are “two really important pieces” when it comes to the choice of Supreme Court justices. She explained:
One is that they have a sound jurisprudence of fealty to the Constitution and the fundamentals of the Constitution. Number two, and one that has generally been ignored by many Republican presidents in the past, but not this one so far … is that there be a steel backbone, a courage of fortitude and ability to go against the tide that is really rushing towards them in these hearings.
“The pride, the vanity, the comfort that comes with being a Supreme Court justice, is not to be underestimated,” she said. “We’ve seen too many justices be attracted by that. That almost irresistible pull, and the only way to handle that is to believe in something far deeper and more transcendent.”