The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month left the Supreme Court with one seat open as the nation draws closely upon the November presidential election. President Donald Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett, his third nominee to the high court, and a final confirmation vote is expected to take place Monday, October 26. This season is full of key political figures for the nation to watch, so to help readers get updated on their information, we have provided a quick guide to help you get to know Judge Barrett.
WHAT IS THE SUPREME COURT?
The Supreme Court is basically the highest court of our nation. This is the last stop for laws and the final say for any related decisions. It is made up of eight associate justices and one chief justice. All justices are nominated by a serving President of the United States. If you get a seat on the Supreme Court, you hold that position for the rest of your life. To date, the justices have been nearly equally representing both parties as they were nominated from various Presidents representing either political party.
The Supreme Court Historical Society explains the history of the courts in this way:
More than two centuries have elapsed since president George Washington nominated John Jay as Chief Justice and five other lawyers as Associate Justices. Since the Court first convened in New York City, 113 Americans have sat on the Supreme Court, serving an average of 16 years each. The president’s choices for appointment to the Court have all been lawyers, although there is no constitutional or legal requirement to that effect. George Washington established a pattern of geographical distribution, with three southerners and three northerners from six different states. Generally, but by no means always, Presidents seek to appoint Justices from their own political party, and those who share their political and philosophical views.
WHERE IS AMY CONEY BARRETT FROM?
Barrett is from New Orleans, Louisiana where she was born and raised. One of seven children, she grew up in a Catholic family and graduated from an all-girls Catholic high school. She is the wife to Jesse Barrett, a former assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Indiana. Together, they have seven children.
WHAT IS BARRETT’S ACADEMIC BACKGROUND?
She went to Rhodes College for undergraduate school in Memphis, Tennessee where she was named “Most Outstanding Student” in the English department. She then studied law at Notre Dame where she would later become a law professor in her own right. Upon her graduation, she clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. She and Scalia both shared the originalist interpretation of the Constitution, which means one should interpret the document as it was meant when it was originally written.
WHAT IS BARRETT’S WORK EXPERIENCE?
Barrett worked at Nortre Dame Law School as a law professor for about twenty years. She now serves on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, and she has been in this position for about three years.
Adding to her experience and vouching for her success is the recent letter published by the American Bar Association:
The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary has completed its evaluation of the professional qualifications of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who has been nominated by the President to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. As you know, the Standing Committee confines its evaluation to the qualities of integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament. A substantial majority of the Standing Committee determined that Judge Barrett is “Well Qualified,” and a minority is of the opinion that she is “Qualified” to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. The majority rating represents the Standing Committee’s official rating.
WHAT CAN BE EXPECTED WITH BARRETT ON THE SUPREME COURT?
At the current age of 48, she would be the youngest justice to currently serve on the Supreme Court. Her young age implies a longer run than most in her position. She would also be the 5th woman ever on the Supreme Court. As a devout Catholic and conservative, she has taken consistently conservative stands on the topics of healthcare, gun control, and abortion.
If the vote goes through and Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed, the future of the Supreme Court will take a step closer to a conservative swing with a total of six conservative seats and three liberal seats. This change would end the near five to four split on votes that were already one vote deeper in conservatism. As politicians and voters alike continue to fight for their preferred parties and ideations, the American Bar Association is taking the emphasis away from political affiliation and instead highlighting professionalism by using its influence to confirm Barrett’s qualifications as a sound judge.