Amy Coney Barrett joins the nation’s highest court

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On October 27, 48 year-old federal appeals judge Amy Coney Barrett took the Judicial Oath to become the nation’s newest Supreme Court justice. One day earlier, she was confirmed by the Senate and took the Constitutional Oath on the South Lawn of the White House.

Amy Coney Barrett replaced Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the Supreme Court. Ginsberg served on the Court for 27 years and was the second woman appointed to the Court. She held liberal principals and voted accordingly on cases such as same-sex marriage, immigration, and disabled individuales. Justice Ginsberg died of pancreatic cancer on September 18, and President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett on September 26 to fill her place.

A top student at Notre Dame Law School, Barrett graduated in 1997 and served as a clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. She later returned to Notre Dame as a professor. Amy Coney Barrett was nominated by President Trump for the Seventh Circuit Federal Appeals Court in 2017 and served in Chicago until she was nominated for the Supreme Court.

Justice Barrett shares many of her political views with President Trump and bases her opinions and beliefs strongly off of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. She believes strongly in using the Constitution and stated, “We should be putting people on the Court who want to apply the Constitution.”

Barrett also believes in the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, and she has admitted to owning a gun during her hearing. The Founding Fathers created this law 240 years ago and it has drawn controversy recently, which is one of the reasons some people opposed confirming her. In defense of her stance she stated, “The original meaning of the Second Amendment does support the idea that governments are free to keep guns out of the hands of the dangerous, such as the mentally ill.”

Justice Barrett is also personally against abortion due to her Catholic faith, but she claimed that it will not affect her decisions for the greater good of the country. It is unknown whether she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, but many have suggested that she would favor limiting access to abortion. 

In order to be confirmed, Justice Barret went through four days of hearings with the Senate Judiciary Committee. One of the most dramatic moments was when Senator John Cornyn of Texas asked Barrett what she had been referring to as she answered questions. She held up a blank notepad. Some have argued that this proves she is a good nominee, as she was able to go through hours of hearings on the law without any reference. EIS eighth grader Brian Polito stated, “I do support the new Supreme Court justice. I think she is a good person to appoint, based on her history and knowledge on the law.”

After her hearings, she was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Then, the matter went to a full Senate vote, where Barrett was confirmed on a 52-48 decision. The Senators voted mostly within party lines. However, one Republican Senator, Susan Collins of Maine, did not vote for Justice Barrett because she did not believe it was fair to confirm a new justice so close to the election.

This decision by Senator Collins highlights a major controversy that erupted after the death of Justice Ginsberg regarding who should be able to select that next Supreme Court justice. Some believed that the winner of the presidential election should have picked the new justice, while others believed that Trump was justified in nominating a new justice. 

Many Democrats felt that whoever won the Presidential Election should be able to choose the new Supreme Court justice, as they were confident that Joe Biden would win. Westfield High School ninth grader Aidan Richards explained, “The death of Justice Ginsberg was so close to the election that it should have been the president elect’s decision to appoint a new justice.”

Most Republicans, on the other hand, believed that President Trump should be able to appoint a new justice. EIS eighth grader Kevin Scatigno stated, “The current president should choose the new justice because his term does not end until January so it is definitely legal. He is also being smart because he knows he has the majority so it will pass the Senate.”

Others were not as opinionated on the issue. EIS eighth grader Garrett Gao explained, “I don’t really have an opinion on what Trump ‘should’ have done, I think that will differ from person to person based on their political stance. However, I am not surprised that Trump felt the need to push a conservative justice into the Supreme Court because it would give him more power.”

Overall, the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett was very controversial, but now that she is on the Supreme Court, she will continue to make decisions that deeply affect this country.