President Trump nominated federal appellate court Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 26. If confirmed she would fill the seat previously held by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The announcement was made at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden that became a "super-spreader" event for the COVID-19 virus.
Judge Barrett graduated from Rhodes College and Notre Dame School of Law. She served a one-year clerkship with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. She joined the law faculty of Notre Dame in 2002. In 2017, she was nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.
Following her introduction, Barrett made the rounds to meet Republican senators. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell outlined an accelerated process of confirmation. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings will begin on Oct. 13 and last for four days.
I pose these questions for Judge Barrett:
* Did President Trump or any senator who interviewed you inquire how you would vote on specific issues? If so, how did you respond?
* An accelerated process of confirmation has been outlined so that, if confirmed, you would join the court before the election on Nov. 3. Should a contested election wind up in the Supreme Court, would you recuse yourself from the court's deliberations and subsequent decision on that issue?
* Much is spoken about the "rule of law" as a defining characteristic of our democratic society. Exactly what does the term mean in a highly volatile, political environment?
* Your nomination is described as a guarantee of a "conservative" majority on the Supreme Court with implications for how future decisions will be rendered by the court for decades to come. Please explain how "conservative" and "liberal" interpretations of the law differ.
* You would be the sixth member of the court to belong to the Federalist Society, which promotes the interpretation of constitutional issues according to the original meaning of that document. How does the "originalist" philosophy interpret issues, such as environmental regulation and birth control, that did not exist at the time the Constitution was enacted?
* You have repeatedly voiced opposition to the Affordable Care Act. If confirmed, would you vote to repeal the ACA? Would you oppose any law mandating universal access to health care?
* You would be the seventh member of the nine-member court to belong to the same Christian denomination. Should religious diversity be a consideration in nominations to the Supreme Court? Your denomination opposes abortion and all forms of artificial contraception. Can you reassure the public that religious doctrine would not influence your judicial opinions?
* You belong to People of Praise, a secretive Christian organization. From media reports we learn that members swear a lifelong oath of loyalty. Each member is assigned a personal adviser to whom they are held accountable. Does this organization or your adviser influence your interpretation of the law? Why has the organization deleted all mention of you from its website?
* In 2006, the Saint Joseph County Right to Life Michiana, which is headquartered in South Bend, Indiana, sponsored a full-page ad in the South Bend Tribune. You were one of several hundred signees. The ad contained the statement: "We the following citizens of Michiana oppose abortion on demand and defend the right to life from fertilization to natural death." Do you continue to support the doctrine of this group? If so, how would you consider the legality of the "morning-after" birth control pill? The pill acts by preventing fertilization of the ovum or blocking implantation of a fertilized egg. How would you address issues related to stored, frozen, human embryos that are no longer needed? Would you oppose the use in medical research of stem cells derived from these embryos? At a time when medical technology can support life indefinitely, how do you define "natural death?"
Judge Barrett, the Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of our laws. Do you have an open mind for this job?
Contact Clif Cleaveland at firstname.lastname@example.org.