Justice Amy Coney Barrett makes history on the Supreme Court

Amy Coney Barrett is sworn in as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court by Chief Justice John Roberts. Her personal and political beliefs have been deemed controversial by many, and her role as the first politically conservative woman on the court makes history.

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Amy Coney Barrett is sworn in as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court by Chief Justice John Roberts. Her personal and political beliefs have been deemed controversial by many, and her role as the first politically conservative woman on the court makes history.

Following the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Trump has selected Amy Coney Barrett as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. She is the fifth woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court and is currently one of three women on the bench. Her position on a high court, as well as her relative inexperience in law and her political values, have imprinted on many Americans.

The process to select a Supreme Court Justice begins with the president, who selects the nominee to fill a vacancy in the nine members. The president typically selects a nominee whose ideas align with their own; however, other factors must be taken into account to make an informed decision.

“I think the President needs to have an understanding of the Constitution and an overall understanding of how the Supreme Court works,” Jan-Vincent Waller, Dual-Credit American History and Contemporary Issues teacher, said.

Though the Supreme Court Justice is a highly coveted political position, there are no specific requirements outlined in the Constitution for a nomination. The expectation of all Supreme Court Justices has been to value the Constitution above personal political beliefs.

“There are no formal qualifications for being a Supreme Court Justice,” Waller said. “I think [people] have to try to not be biased based on qualifications because there is no set standard for this, only established tradition.”

Regarding the nomination of Justice Barrett, there has been debate over whether it was within the rights of the Trump administration to proceed with the nomination, even though the presidential election was within only two months of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. Some believe that the decision should have been made by the incoming administration.

“I think the next administration should have nominated the next Supreme Court Justice based on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s precedent that he set when Justice [Antonin] Scalia died in 2016,” Savanah Thompson (12) said. “Mitch McConnell argued that the replacement wasn’t a decision for the Obama administration because of how close [Scalia’s] death was to the next election.”

Some believe that the next nomination for the Supreme Court should have fallen under the jurisdiction of the Trump administration.

“I think that it was in President Trump’s right to nominate because his term wasn’t up, but I can definitely see how some people think that it should be a job for the next administration because it happened so close to the election,” Michael Golden (12) said.

After the presidential selection, the nominee then proceeds to a Senate confirmation hearing, in which members of the Senate vote on whether the nominee is qualified to be appointed to the bench as a Supreme Court justice. With a Senate majority vote of 52-48, Amy Coney Barrett has been sworn in as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Justice Barrett’s beliefs are conservatively skewed on several pressing matters, such as abortion, immigration, gun laws and marriage equality. Her ideas have posed worries to several groups of Americans. 

“Some decisions that can affect women, in particular, over the next couple of decades, are at stake here, and also for people that identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community,” Waller said.

Her stance regarding the landmark Roe v. Wade court case, which allows pregnant women in America the right to an abortion without governmental interference, potentially poses a threat to many young women. However, changing an established case like Roe v. Wade would require more than Justice Barrett’s presence on the Supreme Court alone.

“Amy Coney Barrett focuses on precedent, and because Roe v. Wade has been decided, I don’t think she could [overturn it],” Golden said. “Although it would be popular amongst conservatives if it were overturned, among the whole general American population, it would be unpopular.”

Justice Barrett’s inexperience in law in comparison to the other justices on the Supreme Court is also an important aspect in her controversial nomination. Her service on the Court may last several decades. 

“I think that having a Republican majority in the Supreme Court could have an impact on all future presidencies, at least for the next few decades,” Thompson said.  “We can turn the Senate and the House of Representatives any color we want to because those elections are more frequent, but the Supreme Court nomination lasts a whole lifetime.”

With the election of Joe Biden as president of the United States in November, Justice Barrett’s nomination, as well as the conservative majority to the Supreme Court, also has implications.

“Because the Supreme Court is skewed conservatively, a lot of the more progressive policies could be struck down. Even though right now, the Democrats control the House and now parts of the executive branch, the Supreme Court can act as a check on that,” Golden said.

However, the power that the Supreme Court will have over the efficiency of the Biden administration will be limited.

“If Biden, moving forward, wants to use the Supreme Court, he has to…not assume that just because they were appointed by a conservative President and they identify as conservative, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will disagree with everything he brings before them,” Waller said.

While judges on the Supreme Court are entitled to their personal beliefs, they do not have official ties to one political party. 

“I think the priority of the Supreme Court members should be to lay aside party differences and ensure that the Constitution is followed in everything,” Thompson said. “[Justices] should uphold the values of the Constitution in an unbiased way, regardless of their own political stance.”

Justice Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court also carries weight in that she will set a precedent as the only woman to have been appointed with conservative values. Overall, as a member of the high court, she is expected to set a standard for conservative women while also upholding the values of the Constitution.

“My faith in the judicial system, its interpretation of the law and the Constitution gives me hope that she is qualified,” Waller said. “Now that she has the job, we have to give her a chance to show us she can do the job.”