the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Jonah Prentiss ’22
Image Credit: Creative Commons
With the recent passing of supreme court justice, vanguard of gender equality and political icon, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the replacement to her supreme court seat in Amy Coney Barrett has garnered widespread attention, both due to her originalist ideology as well as the controversial timing of her nomination. Opinions of Barrett’s nomination, similar to most recent political matters, are simply another example of the sharp division of the U.S. population along the partisan lines that have been carved deeper into American politics during recent years.
Barret’s supreme court nomination became such a hot-button political issue, in large part due to her belief in ‘originalism,’ — the interpretation of the Constitution in a court of law as its authors intended it to be at the time of its conception. While Barrett isn’t currently marching the Senate floor clad in the powdered wigs and breeches of our founding fathers, her constitutional interpretation of choice is a less common one in the current judicial landscape and is often a catalyst for right-leaning political issues such as looser gun control. Barrett’s emphasis on traditional constitutional interpretation is predicted by some to ultimately set back progressive changes as an American society over the 200+ years since the U.S. Constitution’s signing. In particular, this recent judicial nomination by President Donald Trump has given rise to conversations over threats to LGBTQ+ rights, especially considering Barrett’s conservative viewpoints along with her previous guest speaking at the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is considered, by some, to be one of the most anti-LGBTQ+ legal organizations in the United States.
Though in a 2017 confirmation hearing, Barrett said the Supreme Court rulings such as Obergefell v. Hodges that protect the right of same-sex marriage were, “Binding precedent that [she] will faithfully follow if confirmed” and cited the “Ginsburg Rule” of “no hints, no previews” when pressed with these issues. Much of Barrett’s viewpoints on either past or possible future court cases are difficult to ascertain, as her recent Senate confirmation hearings have consisted largely of myriad questions ranging from systemic racism in the United States to presidential power that Barrett has said “I cannot pre-commit … with some agenda, because I am not.” This leaves concerns in a state of quandary for the future direction the Supreme Court may move in with the standard response of Barrett to questions on her judiciary insight. This all culminates in a political environment for potential voters in the 2020 presidential election rooted in uncertainty regarding the future of the judiciary system and the political direction of this country.