The US Senate has confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. Her appointment will come as a surprise to nobody, considering the deeply conservative nominee was publicly fast-tracked by Donald Trump into the wings one week before the national election — a move deemed illegitimate and undemocratic by the many who believe the next elected President should be the one to nominate Ruth Bader Ginsburg's successor.
Of course, that didn't happen and Barrett's appointment to the nine-member court has been confirmed by 52 votes to 48. The court now boasts a 6-3 conservative slant, which basically means that the Republicans hold the majority when passing future policies, regardless of whether or not Biden is elected.
Barrett's influence will also last a lot longer than that of the new president. She has been sworn in for a lifetime position; at 48-years-old, she could technically sit on the court for the next four decades. Or as Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put it, “A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be undone, sooner or later, by the next election. But they won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”
If that comment didn't leave a sinister ringing in your ears, breaking down what Barrett's appointment could mean for the future of reproductive rights, of LGBTQ+ rights, immigration, healthcare, voting rights, and the climate crisis certainly will.
Over the next week, we'll be publishing digestible guides on all the aforementioned rights, starting with what this means for legal abortions, birth control, and reproductive rights in general.
Let's make this clear from the start: Barrett joining the Supreme Court is not a feminist victory (despite Mr. Ross Douthat crowning it so in The New York Times). Her entire career has been committed to reversing abortion rights. She is strictly Catholic and conservative. Per The Guardian, she has portrayed herself as a judge that would not allow her religious beliefs to interfere with judicial rulings, but recent investigations by the publication indicate the exact opposite.
Here's a brief, but far from a comprehensive, overview of the kind of judge she is:
Exhibit A) In 2006, Barrett co-signed a newspaper advertisement published by extreme anti-abortion group St Joseph Country Right to Life (which she failed to reveal to the Senate ahead of her hearings) that called to reverse Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling that made abortion legal in the United States. She dubbed the ruling "barbaric."
In September this year, Trump stated that it "is certainly possible" that Barrett would overturn Roe v Wade. In conversation with Refinery29, Theresa Lau, Senior Counsel of Judges & Courts, Reproductive Rights and Health for the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), clarified, “There are a lot of different ways that she can attack access to abortion and birth control. She can basically chip away at Roe until it becomes meaningless. I think that is also a great danger that we have with her being on the court.”
Exhibit B) She is reportedly a member of a "Right to Life" group, which at first glance apparently looks like a resource site for helping women get safe abortions — until you click on a link and it redirects you to local church groups that actively seek to dissuade vulnerable women from terminating their pregnancies.
Exhibit C) Public records affiliate Barrett with a "cult-like" faith group called the People of Praise. Reports suggest she acted as a "handmaid" (yes, really) and lived with the group's co-founder. The group's reputation is marred with allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of its leaders. It also kicks out any member that admits to having gay sex and bans children of gay parents from joining.
Exhibit D) Another move omitted from the Senate ahead of her hearing was that Barrett also signed a letter published in 2006. This letter was courtesy of Right to Life Michiana and in it, she asserted her opposition to "abortion on demand" and stated that she was pro-protecting all life from "fertilization to natural death."
Exhibit E) During her hearings, she repeatedly dodged questions in relation to how her personal views could interfere with her interpretation of the law. Actions often speak louder than words and the topics she chose to deflect — like the established right to birth control (Griswold v. Connecticut) — is extremely disconcerting.
What's more, given that last month The Guardian reported that there are at least seven current cases regarding abortion rights making their way through the courts, these worries about how Barrett will rule might become visible sooner rather than later.
So, what can you do?
Firstly: VOTE. Make your voice heard.
Secondly: Donate to abortion services now. Here you will find a comprehensive state-by-state list of local funds fighting for health justice.
Thirdly: If you're an anti-choice man reading this, see below.