Here's Why Amy Coney Barrett Matters

BY OLIVIA GYAPONG   SEPT. 26, 2020
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The next Supreme Court justice will be on the court for decades, disproportionately affecting Gen Z members—while not necessarily reflecting their values.

Why should Gen Z members care about Barrett's confirmation?

  1. As Barrett is only 48 years old, she could be on the Supreme Court—which has lifetime appointments—for decades. This means that members of Generation Z will directly feel the effects and implications of Barrett’s influence over key Supreme Court rulings during their lifetimes.
  2. Gen Z is seen as more liberal than older generations, such as Gen X and the Baby Boomers; Barrett’s eventual rulings may not reflect the views of a majority of Gen Z members.
    • For example, the Public Religion Research Institute surveyed 40,000 Americans and found 59% of those aged 18-29 supported abortion legality in all or nearly all cases.1 In essence, more than half of the Gen Z portion of the electorate would disagree with one of Barrett’s major views.
    • However, according to NPR, despite the wave of common sense gun law protests following the 2018 Parkland shooting, voters between the ages of 18 and 36 are only 1% more likely than the 57% national average to believe that American should enforce stricter gun control laws.2 Barrett might be able to draw support from younger voters on the matter of upholding precedent on Second Amendment rights.

How could Barrett’s confirmation impact the court?

  • Professors Lee Epstein of Washington University in St. Louis and Kevin Quinn of the University of Michigan, as well as Dr. Andrew D. Martin, Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis, estimate that Barrett, if confirmed, will be the third-most conservative justice on the Supreme Court.3 This makes her Trump’s most conservative Supreme Court nominee.
  • According to FiveThirtyEight, Barrett’s confirmation would result in the largest ideological swing of the modern Supreme Court since 1953.4
  • It is expected that Barrett will rule in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, which would expand states’ abilities to more stringently regulate abortions, as well as help overturn the ruling to shield the 2012 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).6

How soon could Barrett be confirmed?

  • Republicans want to get Barrett confirmed as quickly as possible. According to The Hill, a Senate aide told the Associated Press that confirmation hearings could begin Oct. 12, with a vote following Oct. 29.7 No timeline has been officially confirmed yet.
    • Barrett is a Circuit Court judge, meaning most Republican senators have already confirmed her once (for her current position). As such, Republicans argue Barrett has been “pre-vetted” and her confirmation should be sped up, according to POLITICO.
  • It is reported that only two conservative senators are not in support of replacing Justice Ginsburg before the election.8 Thus, the vote to confirm Barrett will most likely pass.

What’s the background?

  • Following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Trump and the Republican party have made it clear they intend to fill the Court’s vacancy before the 2020 election, likely giving the Supreme Court a 6-3 conservative majority.
  • Trump began releasing lists of potential Supreme Court nominees in May 2016,9 but Amy Coney Barrett’s name did not appear until the Nov. 17, 2017 list. Barrett is currently a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and hails from Indiana.10
  • Trump officially announced Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee today; Barrett’s confirmation could take as little as 2.5 months.11

Why was Barrett selected?

  • FiveThirtyEight describes Barrett as a “conservative poster child.”12 She has been widely compared to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a champion of the conservative movement; indeed, Barrett was a clerk for Scalia.13
  • Reuters reports that she was chosen in large part due to her Roman Catholic background and well-known religious conservatism, something the Republican party has identified as a key characteristic of many of those comprising its voter base.14
  • Barrett is not only staunchly anti-Affordable Care Act and pro-life (a single issue stance that many religious conservatives applaud), she also has a history of supporting Trump’s strict immigration policies as well as upholding pro-gun rights legislation.15
  • Barrett told the Senate during her 2017 appellate court confirmation hearing that she vowed not to let her religious views influence her rulings; however, she has published works before that link religion and how judges should approach the law.16
  • Barrett can continue to push a GOP agenda after President Trump and whichever Republican successors are out of office. This is key for Republicans who cannot always push through their policies within a president’s two terms. For instance, Barrett can get the ball rolling on repealing Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act), which Trump has not yet been able to replace.

References:

  1. https://www.prri.org/spotlight/younger-americans-more-likely-to-support-abortion-legality-than-any-other-age-group/
  2. https://www.npr.org/2018/02/24/588069946/millennials-are-no-more-liberal-on-gun-control-than-elders-polls-show
  3. http://epstein.wustl.edu/research/ReplacingJusticeGinsburg.pdf
  4. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-amy-coney-barrett-could-change-the-supreme-court/
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/517698-senate-gop-aims-to-have-trump-scotus-pick-confirmed-on-oct-29-report
  8. Ibid.
  9. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.scotusblog.com/2020/09/trump-releases-new-list-of-potential-supreme-court-nominees/amp/
  10. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trumps-supreme-court-list/
  11. https://www.heritage.org/courts/heritage-explains/the-confirmation-process-supreme-court-nominees
  12. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-amy-coney-barrett-could-change-the-supreme-court/
  13. Ibid.
  14. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-barrett-profile-newsmaker/potential-trump-supreme-court-pick-barrett-known-for-conservative-religious-views-idUSKCN26C1AD
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-24370967