Amy Barrett — Immediately, If Not Sooner - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Amy Barrett — Immediately, If Not Sooner
Amy Coney Barrett, at her confirmation hearings in 2017 (YouTube screenshot)

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday evening, she did so with a message for posterity that, for all the history that Ginsburg might have made as a woman on the Supreme Court, was pristine in its self-description of her time on the Court.

“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” she said.

The arrogance of that was par for Ginsburg’s course.

The fact that Republican women haven’t been represented on the Supreme Court since Sandra Day O’Connor rankles a bit; you’ve got to offer big parts of your base role models when you can.

Yes, yes, Ruth Bader Ginsburg lived an interesting life, and yes, yes, she was an accomplished woman. Those things are beside the point. It is neither ghoulish nor inappropriate to look to the future of the United States Supreme Court upon her death rather than pay tribute to the life she lived. After all, that life was for all practical purposes long since over months ago, when Ginsburg chose to spend her time on death’s door occupying space on the Supreme Court in an effort to outlast President Trump. And Ginsburg practically begged us to engage in nominatorial exegesis upon her death with the unfortunate quote referenced above.

That her gambit failed, despite practically every responsible pundit and political voice in the country either whispering or shouting the lack of wisdom involved in Ginsburg persisting on the court long after she should have recognized her failing health and retired, is not the fault or responsibility of President Trump.

She was 87 years old, for crying out loud. Were Trump to be re-elected, did she honestly expect to linger on the Supreme Court until she was 91? Or 92? In her failing health?

The vanity of Ginsburg’s attempt to hold the seat for the Left, regardless of the Supreme Court balance that entails, did not reflect well on her. It was an affront to American democracy, not something to be given credit for.

She was advised to retire years ago, when Barack Obama could have appointed her replacement. She gambled on Hillary Clinton, and she lost.

That was Ginsburg’s problem. Not America’s.

Donald Trump has a Republican Senate majority, and he has a candidate who has been recently vetted, ready to go. It is no secret that Amy Coney Barrett, currently of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, is a favorite of the president’s to succeed Ginsburg, and Barrett ought to be nominated forthwith.

Truth be told, Barrett would have been an appropriate, if not a superior, choice for either of the last two Supreme Court vacancies. That’s not a slur against Neil Gorsuch or Brett Kavanaugh, both of whom were qualified and competent justices. It’s just that Barrett is exactly the kind of Supreme Court Justice Trump wants and needs, and with Ginsburg leaving the court on terms not quite her own but certainly terms she dictated, there is no reason to wait.

Why Amy Barrett? Start with the political.

This appointee needs to be a woman. Yes, as conservatives we hate the idea of quotas and checklists, but it’s an election year. And since Trump didn’t go with a woman to replace Anthony Kennedy or Antonin Scalia, he has to go with one to replace Ginsburg. Besides, the fact that Republican women haven’t been represented on the Supreme Court since Sandra Day O’Connor rankles a bit; you’ve got to offer big parts of your base role models when you can.

Not to mention that the Left has lived on Ginsburg as a folk hero and feminine role model for decades. They’ve made movies about her; they’ve turned her into an icon. They’ve almost completely ignored Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor as cultural figures, something they’ll now likely remedy. But Barrett is something different than Kagan and Sotomayor. She’s not only a stellar, brilliant jurist, she’s also a regular American.

No, let’s rephrase that. Amy Coney Barrett is no regular American. She’s extraordinary, but in ways regular Americans can admire.

For example, and this is important, she isn’t another Ivy League elitist judge. While the Supreme Court is loaded down with law school graduates from Harvard and Yale, Barrett is a Notre Dame graduate. That’s a big deal. The most important imbalance on the Court isn’t that it has too many men, or too many white people, or too many conservatives — it’s that it has too many people who come from a very insular, elitist perspective that does not reflect the experience of ordinary Americans.

Amy Barrett is neither East Coast nor West Coast. She grew up outside of New Orleans, attended elementary and middle school at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School in the middle-class suburb of Metairie, St. Mary’s Dominican High School in the city, graduating in 1990, and then Rhodes College in Memphis. Barrett obtained her law degree from Notre Dame, then after a pair of clerkships for distinguished jurists Lawrence Silberman and Antonin Scalia and a couple of stints at well-respected private law firms, became a law professor at Notre Dame for several years before her nomination to the Seventh Circuit in 2017.

Barrett’s confirmation to the Seventh Circuit was a disaster for the Left. It included the famous gaffe by California’s Dianne Feinstein in which the latter essentially attempted to disqualify Barrett for having deeply held Catholic beliefs, as though that made her akin to a cult member. “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that people have fought for for years in this country,” Feinstein told Barrett during the confirmation hearings, in a moment most Democrats would like to forget.

What underlay that exchange was a 1998 article published in the Marquette Law Review that Barrett had written offering a very thoughtful analysis of the considerations Catholic jurists would run into regarding issues like euthanasia, abortion, and the death penalty. Barrett said during the confirmation hearings that were she to be a trial judge she couldn’t see herself entering an order of execution, but that as a clerk for Scalia at the Supreme Court she had advised the Justice on capital cases and would be bound by the Constitution rather than Catholic teaching on matters of the law. And that was the gist of the law review article — its conclusion was not that the “dogma” would control over the Constitution, but that in cases where the two should conflict it might be reasonable for a Catholic judge to consider recusal under certain circumstances.

It was an excellent performance, one that put Barrett on the map as a potential Supreme Court justice, and Barrett’s demeanor and poise in handling Feinstein’s rather obnoxious assault was eye-opening in a positive way. When Sen. Dick Durbin embarrassed himself asking Barrett whether she was an “orthodox Catholic,” and when the idiot Al Franken attempted to make her out as a homophobe because she had delivered a lecture on constitutional law at a seminar put on by the Alliance Defending Freedom, on the basis of a laughable designation of ADF as a “hate group” by the far-left terrorist inspirers at the Southern Poverty Law Center, it became quite clear that Amy Barrett is not someone the Democrats can beat down in a confirmation hearing.

Presenting Amy Barrett to the Senate for Supreme Court confirmation would tee up yet another potential disaster for the Democrats just like her confirmation for the Seventh Circuit was, and it would do so when virtually every American is watching intently.

She’s young, in her late 40s. She’s a mother of seven, including two adopted children from Haiti, she lives a middle-class lifestyle (her husband Jesse Barrett is a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago), she’s attractive, she’s exceptionally well-spoken and an excellent, compelling speaker on the law and the Constitution.

She also boasts an outstanding perspective, as a mother of seven who’s been a lawyer, a law professor, and a federal appellate judge, on the question of how women might balance a career and a family. Barrett has said that women shouldn’t be pigeonholed into specific roles based on other “dogma” on the issue; rather, the individual circumstances should govern and nobody should assail their choices out of some feminist or traditionalist perspective. That’s a healthy viewpoint the majority of American women, and particularly middle-class or upper-middle-class women in the suburbs, will find wisdom in.

Which is a trap the Democrats could easily fall into, seeing as though so many of them have taken on the perspective that women who choose family over a career are somehow selling themselves short or are traitors to their sex and seeing as though the Left is insistent on forcing women to adopt more and more unrealistic ideals for themselves, at an increasing cost to the happiness of women in America. Nobody would accuse Amy Barrett of that, but to paint her as barefoot and pregnant because she has seven kids, including two adoptees from Haiti and one with Down Syndrome, will be an unmitigated disaster in front of suburban women far more likely to see her as a hero.

You guys want to alienate the rest of the Catholics you haven’t pissed off? You want to drive away those suburban white chicks you’re competitive with because of Trump’s mean tweets, the ones you had a brief flirtation with in the 2018 midterms but who are ignoring your texts thanks to the “mostly peaceful” riots just a few miles away from where they do yoga a couple of days a week? Go make a run at Kavanaughing Amy Barrett. Let’s see how well that works for you.

Get this done now, President Trump. Don’t wait. Your correct nominee has already been on a Supreme Court short list. She was in the final three when Kavanaugh was selected, and she was the woman of the bunch. She will be on the Supreme Court for the better part of three decades, maybe longer, and she will become an icon of American jurisprudence and a cultural figure who makes a joke of the Left’s narrative about the “patriarchy” or even “white privilege” — she’s far more impressive and relatable than anyone on the scene griping about such Marxist tropes.

And if anyone screams about the speed of the nomination, or the rapidity by which it moves through the Senate, those things are easily dispatched.

The Supreme Court begins to hear cases in the first week of October. Having nine justices on that court is important for the country.

By all rights, this nomination and confirmation should have been dispensed with months, if not years, ago. It isn’t Donald Trump’s fault but Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s that we come to this crossroads now, with the presidential election so near. Ginsburg didn’t die suddenly; she’s been too ill to effectively serve on the court for months, if not years. The Weekend At Ruthie’s memes are old and tired, they’ve been around so long. That kind of obstinance, driven by pure partisan hackery on Ginsburg’s part, abetted by the Democrat party establishment, possesses no rational argument for its own reward.

The Republicans have the power, granted to them by the American people in the 2018 elections when the GOP won enough Senate seats for a 53-47 effective majority and by former Majority Leader Harry Reid when the latter exercised the “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster on federal judges, to push through a nominee. Three of those Republicans, Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, have expressed objection to voting for a Supreme Court confirmation prior to the election, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday night there will be a vote. Even without Romney, Collins, and Murkowski there are 50 votes for Barrett — and that’s before Doug Jones, the Democrat from Alabama who is likely to get clobbered by former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville in that state’s race, is put to the question. Jones’ political prospects are such that a “yes” vote on Barrett might be the only hope he has at staving off extinction.

Even without Jones’ vote and a worst-case scenario among faithless GOP senators, it’s a 50-50 tie that Vice President Mike Pence, who was governor of Indiana when Barrett was a law professor in that state at Notre Dame, can break.

In other words, this nomination is there for the confirming, it gives the country an excellent Supreme Court justice who will do excellent service for a protracted period of time, it’s a transformational choice that creates a new Supreme Court for the 21st century, it’s a political win that delivers Catholic voters and suburban women for the president’s party, it creates a feminine cultural icon setting precisely the right tone, and it demonstrates once and for all to conservative voters that, unlike the Republican Party of the Bush era, this GOP has the will and the sand to deliver on its promises.

On big items. With big stakes. For lasting change.

Make Amy Barrett happen, Mr. President. Don’t think twice, don’t wait. Move the nomination forward, and work with Sen. McConnell to ram it through with all possible speed. You won’t regret it — in fact, the political capital it will give you will seal the election not just for you but for your allies down the ballot in November.

Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is a contributing editor at The American Spectator  and publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics, and, a national political news aggregation and opinion site. Additionally, he's the author of the new book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win The Next American Era, available at He’s also a writer of fiction — check out his three Tales of Ardenia novels Animus, Perdition and Retribution at Amazon. Scott's other project is The Speakeasy, a free-speech social and news app with benefits - check it out here.
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