“Judges cannot say, ‘I have a purpose in my life, love or hate guns, love or hate abortion’ and impose their will like monarchs”, argued Judge Amy Coney Barrett during her hearing in mid-October before the United States Senate.
While the upper house of Congress should, except surprise, confirm, on Monday, October 26, her appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States, it is indeed the conservative positions of the magistrate that have led the American President, Donald Trump, to the nominated to sit in the highest judicial institution in the country to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, icon of the struggle for minority rights, who died on September 18 at the age of 87.
Amy Coney Barrett, 48, is highly regarded by the religious right, who appreciates her view of the law and her way of life. This devout Catholic and native of Louisiana, in the conservative south of the country, has seven children, two of whom, originally from Haiti, have been adopted. Her youngest son has Down’s syndrome.
From the end of the 1990s, then a young graduate of Notre-Dame University, a renowned denominational institution in Indiana, she embraced a so-called “originalist” reading of law by working for Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, who theorized this doctrine. It requires reading the Constitution as it was conceived when it was written. “A judge must apply the law as it is written and not as he would like it to be”, repeats Amy Coney Barrett regularly.
A vision prized in traditionalist circles, which criticize the highest court in the country for having moved away from the thinking of the founding fathers to change certain rights, including abortion or same-sex marriage.
After her experience with Justice Scalia, Amy Coney Barrett returned to Notre Dame University, where she worked for fifteen years as a law professor. It’s only by 2017, she became a federal judge in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal, with jurisdiction over the states of Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. And his confirmation process in the Senate had then been stormy: “Religious dogma lives noisily in you”, had criticized him in particular the Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein.
Already in 2018, Justice Barrett was one of Donald Trump’s favorites to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. The siege finally returned to Brett Kavanaugh after a fierce political battle.
A woman seen as an ideologue
Amy Coney Barrett’s critics accuse her of being an ideologue. They cite in particular one of her speeches from 2006 (widely repeated and distorted since her appointment) in which she declares that she wants to “To serve the kingdom of God”, petitions signed against abortion or membership in a Catholic group with rites far removed from the canons of the Church, People of Praise.
She served for nearly three years on the board of trustees of private religious establishments, Trinity Schools (“the Trinity Schools”), affiliated with People of Praise, which prohibited the admission of children of homosexual parents. and explicitly mentioned that LGBT + teachers were not welcome. Three of her children attended Trinity Schools in South Bend, Indiana.
He is also criticized for having taken, as a judge, positions favorable to firearms and against migrants, women seeking abortions and Obamacare, the health insurance law that Republicans want to dismantle.
The right to abortion is not set in stone
Before the Senate in mid-October, Amy Coney Barrett admitted to owning a firearm and said she was committed to the teachings of the Roman Church: “These are my choices” and “I never tried to impose them” to others. While the magistrate vowed to keep her faith out of her work as a judge, she refused to offer her opinion on a range of hot topics, starting with the right of American women to have an abortion.
Asked by Senator Dianne Feinstein about the “Roe v. Wade “of 1973, recognizing the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy, swept aside: “Whether I say I love him or hate him, it will send a signal while appeals are pending. “
But she hinted that the judgment was not set in stone. “Roe v. Wade ” “Is not a superprecedent”, she said, before moderating: “That doesn’t mean it has to be canceled. ” The magistrate was just as evasive on the rights of sexual minorities or on the issue of weapons.
Dianne Feinstein judged “Worrying not to have a clear answer”, but was careful not to repeat the criticisms she had issued three years ago on the religiosity of Amy Coney Barrett – the formula then having turned against her, accused of intolerant, and had increased the aura of judge in traditionalist Christian circles.
“Not hostile” to Obamacare
Another area of concern for Democrats is the magistrate’s positions on Obamacare, the emblematic law of former President Barack Obama, which has granted health coverage to millions of Americans.
The Republicans “Need an additional judge (…) before November 10 to totally invalidate Obamacare “, estimated Kamala Harris, senator and running mate of Joe Biden in the presidential election. On that date, the Supreme Court must examine an appeal brought by elected conservatives against the law.
The former prosecutor asked the magistrate whether she knew, before being appointed, that President Trump had promised to choose only judges who could overturn the law. ” I do not remember “, replied the person concerned. “I am not hostile” to this law, she added:
“I have never had a conversation with the President or a member of his team on how I might decide this matter. “
“My boss is the rule of law”, assures the judge
More broadly, Amy Coney Barrett claims to have taken “No commitment” with the White House or the Senate on how it would judge sensitive issues, including possible electoral disputes in the wake of the November 3 presidential election:
“I will not let myself be used as a pawn in this election. “
But several Democratic senators felt it had been put into orbit by wealthy conservative lobbies. The judge reaffirmed her independence, repeating on several occasions “Have no goals” policies. “I made no promises to anyone”, “My boss is the rule of law”, she swore.
Given the Republican majority in the Senate (53 out of 100 seats), and despite the announced defection of two Republican senators, Amy Coney Barrett is almost certain to be confirmed. She could be sworn in immediately and join the temple of law on the eve of the election: there would then be six conservative judges out of nine, a solid majority.