‘Wrecking ball’ or ‘nothing to fear’? US reacts to Trump’s pick

Reactions are pouring in about Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justice nominee, conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative jurist and constitutional scholar, was named to the federal appeals court in 2017 by United States President Donald Trump [Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame/Handout Photo]

United States President Donald Trump on Saturday named federal judge Amy Coney Barrett as his choice to fill the seat of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

His pick – like every Supreme Court nominee in recent decades – is highly controversial.

Top Republican lawmakers unsurprisingly rallied around the president’s selection, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, who will be shepherding Barrett’s confirmation process.

McConnell called Barrett “an exceptionally impressive jurist and an exceedingly well-qualified nominee to the Supreme Court”, while Graham said he was “very committed to ensuring the nominee gets a challenging, fair, and respectful hearing”.

Barrett’s critics have been quick to point out her conservative views on abortion and healthcare, for starters, while her defenders are hailing her as a brilliant legal mind who has strong connections to her faith and family.

Amy Coney Barrett is a favourite among religious conservatives in the United States [File: University of Notre Dame Law School/Handout Photo]

Liberal law professor Lara Bazelon summarised what is expected to be the Democrats’ mantra throughout the confirmation process, which will take place in the US Senate.

“Make no mistake: Judge Barrett’s confirmation will be the wrecking ball that finally smashes Roe v Wade and undoes the Affordable Care Act,” Bazelon, a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law,  wrote in a New York Times opinion piece.

“Her crucial vote on these cases and so many others will undo decades of the progress that Justice Ginsburg worked her whole life to achieve.”

Biden, Democrats opposed

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee and is expected to take part in questioning Barrett during her confirmation hearing, both tweeted their opposition.

Biden focused on the Affordable Care Act, while Harris mentioned abortion rights in her response to Trump’s announcement.

Senate Democrats joined in the opposition, including Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who will question Barrett during the confirmation hearing, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who tweeted a video.

Both are also keeping with their party’s message discipline by focusing their reactions on the health care issue.

Demand Justice, a group that will be active in opposing Barrett’s nomination, tweeted that its members believe Barrett could “could strip millions of Americans of their reproductive freedom and health protections” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Undecided Republicans

A couple of Republican senators who, because of political considerations, aren’t publicly tipping their hands as to whether they will vote to confirm Barrett, also weighed in on Saturday’s decision.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney, an occasional Trump critic, and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, who is facing a difficult re-election battle, both said they “look forward” to meeting Barrett and examining her record.

Supporters push for Barrett

The Judicial Crisis Network, a non-profit group that promotes conservative judicial nominees and that is reportedly spending $10m to campaign in support of Barrett’s confirmation, released a new TV ad on her behalf:

Meanwhile, Barrett’s fellow professor at the University of Notre Dame, O Carter Snead, sought to dispel concerns around her nomination, writing in The Washington Post earlier on Saturday that “liberals have nothing to fear” with the conservative jurist.

“There is of course no way to know in advance how a Justice Barrett would rule on hot-button cases,” Snead wrote.

“What is clear is that she would carefully analyze each case on its merits, respectful of the stakes for both the rule of law and the stability of our polity, doing her level best to get the question right, regardless of her own personal views.”

Source: Al Jazeera