What Just HappenedThe Confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett

President Donald J. Trump and U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett stand on a balcony. They are both white and dressed up.

President Donald J. Trump and U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett stand together on the Blue Room balcony Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, following Justice Barrett’s swearing-in ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. (Photo credit: Andrea Hanks/Official White House Photo)

Our Take

Just prior to her death on September 18, and after nearly 30 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told her granddaughter, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Her dying wish was promptly ignored in a scramble to install a new justice before an election that Donald Trump is prepared to call illegitimate if he doesn’t win it.

On Monday evening, Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Republican appointees now outnumber Democratic ones 6-3, largely the result of the move by Republicans to refuse to allow President Obama to fill the vacant seat of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. Instead of allowing Obama to replace Justice Scalia, he was refused under the argument that it would be unfair for a president to fill a Supreme Court seat so close to an election. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” Mitch McConnell said at the time. Now, hypocrisy shines, leaving us with Barrett confirmed just a week before the election.

Some conservatives have, predictably, tried to spin Barrett’s win as a win for feminism. It is emphatically not: Donald Trump’s vow to replace Ginsburg with a woman was from the start a cynical gambit to use Barrett’s sex to undermine the rights and autonomy of other women. Barrett has patterned her judicial philosophy after that of Scalia (for whom Barrett once clerked), and her appointment poses a threat to abortion access, birth control, and in vitro fertilization. Mary Ziegler, author of Abortion and the Law in America: A Legal History of the Abortion Debate and Rachel Rebouché, associate dean at Temple University School of Law, wrote for NBC News, that “[a]bortion foes have already worked to redefine some contraceptives as abortifacients. With Amy Coney Barrett on the court, there is no reason for them to stop now.”

Equally concerning are Barrett’s views on LGBTQ rights and her refusal to comment, during her confirmation hearings, on whether the 2015 SCOTUS ruling that granted same-sex couples the right to marry was correct. And, most alarming at a time when the United States has failed to control the spread of COVID-19, Barrett’s appointment all but ensures that conservatives will win their needless, years-long war on the Affordable Care Act.

We already know that democracy itself is on the November 3 ballot. Barrett’s rushed, shotgun SCOTUS appointment just makes clearer how endangered the will of the people already is.

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  • The Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett, Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, on Monday. Her appointment was pushed through the Senate in just a month. [New York Times]

  • Given the timing of her nomination—while general election voting had already begun in many states across the country—eighty eight of Barrett’s colleagues from the University of Notre Dame penned a letter urging to halt the nomination process until after Nov 3. [HuffPost]

  • Barrett is not new to criticism: rather, in 2017, as President Trump’s nominee for a seat on the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, she was questioned at a Senate hearing about whether her Catholic faith would influence her rulings. [New York Times]

  • Members of the Christian group for which Barrett was a “handmaid,” the People of Praise, came forward with concerns and noted that they were “triggered” by her nomination considering the extreme nature of the group. [the Guardian]

  • Barrett served for nearly three years on the board of trustees of a private school whose anti-LGBTQ policies denied admission to children of same-sex parents and prohibited the hiring of gay and lesbian teachers. [PBS]

  • A White House press release says that “Judge Barrett is known for her keen intellect, piercing legal analysis, and generous spirit.” Critics call her the “least experienced Supreme Court Nominee in 30 years.” [Mother Jones]

  • The Human Rights Campaign released a statement calling Barrett’s confirmation “a sham” that “threatens LGBTQ equality.” [HRC]

  • People with disabilities and their families have expressed fear about what Barrett’s confirmation means for the ACA and their lives. [CNN]

  • Given the upcoming election, and Trump’s continual assertion that the election is rigged—despite not yet taking place—some journalists are concerned that we are heading to another Bush v. Gore election in which the Supreme Court, and therefore Barrett, are able to determine the outcome of the election. [Slate]

  • “Court packing”—the addition of more justices to the Supreme Court bench, originally proposed by FDR—has been floated as a possible way to counteract the 6-3 leaning of the Court after Barrett’s appointment. While the GOP have already called foul play around the hypothetical, it is actually a tactic the GOP themselves have already employed at the state supreme court level. [New York Times, Associated Press]

  • Congress can also consider restricting the Supreme Court’s authority to hear cases on specific subjects, like abortion or gay marriage. [Politico]


  • Flipping the Senate from majority Republican to majority Democrat will have lasting impacts on judges (and other executive branch figures). Donate to a Senate race near you or in a state with a more contentious race than your home state. [Flip the Senate, How We Flip the Senate]

  • Donate to ActBlue, a nonprofit organization that specifically helps Democratic candidates build small-dollar fundraising platforms. [ActBlue]

  • Abortion rights are once again at risk, which increases the need for abortion funds. Donate to help people with wombs secure the abortions they need, and learn how you can help states with the highest needs for abortion access. [National Network of Abortion Funds, The Cut]

  • Flipping state elections is equally crucial to flipping our federal government. Sign up to volunteer with Get Her Elected and help progressive women candidates with their election campaigns. Find a cause local to you or help a race in a more contentious state. [Get Her Elected]

  • The holidays are coming up, which means having the opportunity to talk to family members and friends about abortion, racism, why Black Lives Matter, and more. It’s up to us to de-radicalize the people around us. [Rewire News Group, NPR, Black Lives Matter, Washington Post]

  • Social media allows for the unchecked proliferation of right-wing content. Read more about how it allows for right-wing radicalization in our day and age, and how you can help fix people’s social media feeds. [Media Matters, Mother Jones, Mashable]

  • If, after all this, you’re still raging, consider donating to Bitch Media today or joining The Rage, a community of folks reclaiming their anger and supporting independent feminist media. [Bitch Media]

Editor’s Note: The story has been updated to edit a typo in the HRC quote. (10/27/2020 at 5:38pm PST)


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