The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett as US Supreme Court Associate Justice has already been decried by American liberals who object to her Catholic upbringing and strong anti-abortion stance.
But the nominee, who has already been dubbed by some “Glorious ACB” - as the opposite of late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who is remembered by many as “Notorious RBG” – also has her fans and supporters.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg will go down in history as a fierce fighter for gender equality who maintained that women belong everywhere “decisions are being made” and Barrett's nomination to fill her vacant seat would seem to show that she won that fight, even if the philosophies of the two jurists are diametrically opposed, says Washington attorney Elizabeth Slattery.
So who is Amy Coney Barrett, the woman who has already been admired and criticised across the whole American political spectrum?
Family & Early Life
- Amy Vivian Coney was born in 1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her father was an attorney for Shell Oil Company and her mother was a French teacher. She is the eldest of seven children.
- In 1999, Coney married Jesse M. Barret, a fellow graduate of Notre Dame Law School and a former Assistant US Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana. The couple have seven children together, including two adopted from Haiti and one with Down's syndrome.
Education & Academic Career
- The future judge initially studied English literature at Rhodes College in Tennessee and graduated with distinction in 1994. Barrett then moved to study law at Notre Dame Law School in Indiana, graduating first in the class in 1997. During her studies, Coney worked as an executive editor of the Notre Dame Law Review.
- In her early career, the attorney served as a visiting associate professor at George Washington University Law School. In 2002, Barrett returned to Notre Dame Law School to teach federal courts, constitutional law, and statutory interpretation. In 2010, she was named a Professor in Law and has since then received the "Distinguished Professor of the Year" award three times.
- Barrett, an acclaimed academic scholar, made her name with a number of publications on originalism, a legal concept referring to an idea that the Constitution should be interpreted by judges based on the original understanding of its authors in regards to the times when it was written and ratified.
- After graduating from law school, Barrett took up the position as a judicial law clerk in the US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit and then at the US Supreme Court. She also practised law at Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin firm, whose founder was an advocate and friend of Richard Nixon and Edward Kennedy.
- In May 2017, Barrett was nominated by US President Donald Trump to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Her nomination hearing held in September 2017 was described by some as rather “hostile” as senators implied during the questioning that the attorney’s Roman Catholic faith could interfere with her court decisions. According to observers and analysts, Barrett successfully passed the test by showing a "civil and unflappable disposition" during the grilling. She firmly argued back then: "My personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear on the discharge of my duties as a judge." Later, President Trump praised the judge for being “tough” during the vetting process.
- As a Roman Catholic conservative, Barrett previously referred to abortion as "always immoral" and publicly favoured rhetoric for overruling the Roe v. Wade legal precedent that defends a woman’s right to abortion.
- During her time at 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett has stuck to rulings that supported restrictions to access to abortion. She has also been linked to conservative Christian faith group, People of Praise, which is believed to have a clear anti-LGBTQ stance and maintains that sexual relations should only happen between heterosexual, married couples.
What's Next After Trump's Pick Announcement?
Before being named as a new Associate Justice, Barrett will again have to undergo a confirmation hearing which is not expected to be an easy ride. If appointed, she would give the Supreme Court a clear conservative majority – an idea that has not been welcomed by Democratic voters who now feare that the Obamacare health act and abortion rights would be put at risk by Barrett’s nomination.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said on Saturday that confirmation hearings will begin on 12 October.