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On Oct. 26, Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court in a 52-48 Senate vote. Justice Barrett’s confirmation came as no surprise to many and marks a landmark shift of the Court’s ideology. As the youngest woman ever confirmed to the Supreme Court, this ideological shift could have lasting impacts for many years to come.
Justice Barrett’s experience includes work as a law clerk for Judge Laurence Silberman and Justice Antonin Scalia. After leaving her clerk positions, she practiced law in the District of Columbia area before returning to her alma mater, Notre Dame, to teach constitutional law and federal courts. Having only worked as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for three years, she is the least judicially experienced member of the Supreme Court.
Justice Barrett’s confirmation process was not free from controversy. She was nominated on Sept. 26, only eight days after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She first appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 12, only answering a few questions and obfuscating the rest. Spanning only 28 days, her nomination to confirmation was one of the shortest in recent history.
The criticism of Justice Barrett comes from a multitude of different groups spanning several issues. Her decisions on cases as a member of the federal court of appeals in Chicago often reflect that of her mentor, Justice Scalia. From abortion to the Affordable Care Act to gay marriage, Justice Barrett has shown through her writing that she is not above reversing long-held court precedents.
At one point during her confirmation hearing, Justice Barrett was asked what materials or notes she had brought along with her to answer questions, and proudly, she presented an empty notepad to the committee. Many senators tried to play this as a sign of her strength and intelligence, but in my eyes, it was mockery of the Senate process and the practice of law itself. The practice of law is not a closed-book exam, and it is the responsibility of those who hold power to use resources whenever possible to come to the best conclusion when deliberating case outcomes.
Her refusal to answer questions throughout the confirmation process not only makes the American people question her impartiality, it makes them question her credibility. If Justice Barrett cannot answer simple questions about how she feels about issues, how can a legitimate confirmation process ever occur? The answer is simple: it can’t. This confirmation process was nothing more than a political circus and an insult to those in desperate need of financial relief due to the pandemic.
The fact of the matter is that Justice Barrett is not qualified for the position she now holds. Now appointed to the highest court in the land, her confirmation marks a dark period of American history, one where we have not only forgotten what we stand for, but where the separation of powers and democratic processes mean nothing. The American people deserve better, and the shadow of Justice Ginsburg’s legacy will forever loom over the Justice who now occupies her seat.
Correction: This opinion piece previously said that Barrett was the youngest person ever confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. That is incorrect. She is the youngest woman ever confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The error has been fixed.