Amy Coney Barrett: Who is the New United States Supreme Court Justice?


Credit: Rachel Malehorn, AP News

Ella Siepel, Contributing Writer

On Monday, October 26th at 8:06 PM, Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a Supreme Court Justice. Barrett was confirmed by a close vote of 52-48, split almost exactly along party lines, and will replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Appointing Barrett to the Supreme Court solidifies the 6-3 conservative majority. 

Justice Barrett graduated at the top of her class from Notre Dame Law School, making her the only current justice without a degree from Harvard or Yale. Barrett’s legal background is extensive, having served as a law professor at Notre Dame and as a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She will be the 5th woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court, and the first mother of school-age children. 

As for Barrett’s political views, she can be described as a conservative and a constitutional originalist. She shares these originalist views with former justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she once clerked.  Barrett describes originalism as “[interpreting] the constitution as a law, that I interpret its text as text and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. So that meaning doesn’t change over time. And it’s not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it.” She is certainly not the only current Justice who holds this belief, as Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh are all self-proclaimed originalists. 

Barrett is staunchly pro-life, cited by some as being one of the most pro-life judges every to serve on the Court. She is also Catholic, and has stated that while this may impact her moral beliefs, it will have no impact on her decisions in court cases. Though Barrett was careful not to disclose how she would rule on any cases in the future, it has been speculated that she will rule against the Affordable Care Act in a future challenge to it. 

Though Barrett certainly has the qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice, her appointment came with a fair amount of controversies. While Senate Republicans stood by Barrett as a qualified and unbiased candidate, Senate Democrats were strongly opposed to her appointment. They expressed concerns not only over the rushed nature of Barrett’s appointment due to it taking place so close to the 2020 presidential election, but also towards her potential rulings regarding the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade. Some Democratic Senators have even gone as far as to call the appointment a “power grab,” though Republicans claim that appointing Barrett was not a partisan decision.