Fit for the Bench?

Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the US Supreme Court is inconsistent with the progress America currently needs.

Judge+Amy+Coney+Barrett+was+nominated+to+the+US+Supreme+Court+by+President+Donald+Trump+in+the+Rose+Garden+of+the+White+House+in+Washington%2C+DC+on+September+26%2C+2020.+-+Barrett+was+confirmed+last+month+to+replace+Justice+Ruth+Bader+Ginsburg%2C+who+died+on+September+18.

photo by Oliver Douliery

Judge Amy Coney Barrett was nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on September 26, 2020. – Barrett was confirmed last month to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on September 18.

By Claire Majerac, North Allegheny Senior High School

Girls, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community across America are fearing for their rights with the recent confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett. 

Barrett’s history makes many uneasy. Her involvement in the highly conservative  Christian group People of Praise is worrisome, as the “male-dominant” society teaches that men are more important than women, and Barrett herself served as a “handmaid.” 

Since the airing of the Hulu series, The Handmaid’s Tale, the group has changed the title from “handmaids” to “women leaders.” Margaret Atwood, the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, said in an interview with The Post that she was inspired to write her dystopian novel by a “different but similar group.”

“Women leaders” like Barrett serve to teach young women conservative views on marriage and raising children. The group teaches that women are inferior to men and that they must submit to their husbands. In the book Not Reliable Guides, written by Adrian Reimers, a former member of People of Praise, anything a married woman would like to do “requires at least his [the husband’s] tacit approval.”

Reverend James Conolly, a historian of religion who was close to early members of the group, claims that People of Praise teaches that members “share a fundamental equality.” 

anything a married woman would like to do “requires at least his [the husband’s] tacit approval.””

However, the group believes that once a woman is married, she is a homemaker. They teach members to run their families according to the Bible. In the eyes of People of Praise, women are homemakers and exist to support their husbands. Men are the heads of the household and the decision-makers. 

The world has changed quite a bit from Biblical times. Women can now support themselves financially and don’t need to rely on their husbands to provide for them. While I can understand that it makes men feel superior and powerful to provide for the helpless creatures that women are in their eyes, that isn’t where the world is today. 

That same idea can apply to Amy Coney Barrett. She isn’t where the world is today.

Take the case of Terrell Day. He was an 18-year-old Black teenager who, after shoplifting a watch from a store, was chased by a policeman Though I am not condoning theft, I am condemning what soon followed. Day was chased out of the mall by Randall Denny, the police officer on the scene. Day was overweight, and by the time Denny had gotten to him, he had collapsed on the ground and was breathing heavily. Denny handcuffed him and forced him to lay on his stomach. The officer called for extra backup and a second pair of handcuffs was placed on Day. For 42 minutes, the officers waited as an ambulance came to get Day, who proved to be unresponsive once medical attention had arrived. Terrell died of positional asphyxiation, caused when “a suspect, especially a larger one, is placed on their chest or stomach, with the suspect’s arms and legs restrained behind the back.” 

Day’s mother sued officer Franklin Wooten, the other officer involved in her son’s death, and that is where Justice Barrett comes into play. 

Franklin Wooten appealed to Amy Coney Barrett’s court, where the decision was made that Wooten and Denny were to be excused of the death of Terrell Day because “the only right [Day] can assert would be the right of an out-of-breath arrestee to not have his hands cuffed behind his back after he complains of difficulty breathing.”

Barrett and two other judges decided that it wasn’t the officers’ fault because Terrell Day had no right to breathe while he was in handcuffs. This is preposterous. Barrett claimed that breathing is not a constitutional right.

Can you imagine the mother of Terrell Day hearing that the murder of her son had been excused because a judge ruled he had no right to breathe? 

The Founding Fathers established that we as Americans have unalienable rights that include a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. By making this ruling, Justice Barrett disregarded the Constitution. 

Especially in the wake of what some are calling a second civil rights movement, Barrett sounds extremely outdated and racist with this ruling.

This isn’t the only time that Barrett has failed to judge in accordance with the Constitution. In one of her confirmation hearings, she failed to answer a softball question by Republican Senator Ben Sasse. When asked to list the freedoms of the first amendment, Barrett failed to provide the correct response

Speech, press, religion, assembly… what am I missing?”

Barrett forgot to include the freedom to petition, otherwise known as the right to protest.

My point is that Barrett isn’t fit to be a judge on our nation’s highest court. Her very nomination was unjust. Back in 2016, the Senate rejected former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland because it was months before the election. Though just weeks before the 2020 election, President Donald Trump successfully appointed Barrett. 

Before she was confirmed, hundreds of Notre Dame faculty members rejected the idea of Amy Coney Barrett becoming a Supreme Court justice. If her own colleagues don’t believe she’s fit to be a judge, what made the Senate think otherwise?

This story was originally published on The Uproar on November 9, 2020.