The Top Contender for RBG's Seat Has a Fundamentally Cruel Vision of the Law - 2020-09-19
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death presents Donald Trump with an opportunity to transform the United States far beyond most Americans' comprehension. Replacing the justice with a conservative would mark the single most consequential act of his presidency. It would doom policies and precedents that have come to form a cornerstone of American law. It's not hard to foresee what the court could accomplish if Justice Brett Kavanaugh becomes the swing vote.
The consensus among legal and political analysts is that Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whom Trump placed on a federal appeals court in 2017, is the leading candidate to fill Ginsburg's seat. Barrett gained fame during her confirmation hearing after Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein made inappropriate comments about the judge's devout Catholic faith. She is a hardcore conservative, but that description doesn't quite capture how radically her jurisprudence differs from Ginsburg's. The justice viewed the Bill of Rights and civil rights acts as generous guarantees of human dignity that must be read expansively to achieve their purpose. By contrast, Barrett's view of the law is fundamentally cruel. During her three years on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett has either written or joined a remarkable number of opinions that harm unpopular and powerless individuals who rely on the judiciary to safeguard their rights.
Faced with two plausible readings of a law, fact, or precedent, Barrett always seems to choose the harsher, stingier interpretation. Can job applicants sue employers whose policies have a disproportionately deleterious impact on older people? Barrett said no. Should courts halt the deportation of an immigrant who faced torture at home? Barrett said no. Should they protect refugees denied asylum on the basis of xenophobic prejudice? Barrett said no. Should they shield prisoners from unjustified violence by correctional officers? Barrett said no. Should minors be allowed to terminate a pregnancy without telling their parents if a judge has found that they're mature enough to make the decision? Barrett said no. Should women be permitted to obtain an abortion upon discovering a severe fetal abnormality? Barrett said no.