Sunday, October 25, 2020
If it has not happened yet as you read this, in a matter of hours Judge Amy C. Barrett will be approved to be Justice Barrett. She fashions herself after Justice Scalia, for whom she clerked. But Judge Barrett has neither the sophistication nor the humor that made Justice Scalia respected by his peers. While there is no question that Justice Barrett will be welcomed by the other Supreme Court Justices, the future will tell if she will garner respect from Justices, Supreme Court scholars and advocates.
Replacing Justice Ginsburg with Justice Barrett is comparable to replacing Justice Marshall with Justice Thomas. Ideologies of the deceased and replacement justices could not be further apart and likely would have offended both Justices Marshall and Ginsberg. While Justice Barrett may view herself in Justice Scalia's jurisprudential lineage, she is at best a distant cousin. Justice Barrett is most akin to Justice Thomas. Her jurisprudence stems from her personal belief system and she is dogmatic in its application. One hopes that she will be open to influence by her peers and open to debate; but her history does not portend acceptance to debate that might lead to alternative views. Her views on abortion and other reproductive rights are well known and have been incorporated into her rigid judicial judicial rationales. Advocates of LGBTQ+ rights should worry, as well. Justice Barrett will be the third justice to question whether marriage equality is grounded in constitutional rights. She gave paid speeches for an organization that advocates for criminalization of sex other than that between cisgendered heterosexual people. She served as trustee for a Christian school that declined to enroll children of same-sex parents and whose hiring practices discriminated against gay and lesbian teachers.
Whatever talents Justice Barrett might bring to the court, an unbiased mind may not be among them.