USA

Who is Amy Coney Barrett, the Supreme Court's newest judge?

Washington D.C. - Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed by the Senate to be the newest judge on the US Supreme Court and will be the youngest member of the nation's top judicial body.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett at the White House confirmation ceremony on Monday evening.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett at the White House confirmation ceremony on Monday evening.  © Alex Brandon/AP/dpa

Barrett, seen as a staunch conservative, has served on the US Court of Appeals in Illinois since 2017. Before her time as a judge, the 48-year-old mother of seven from Louisiana spent much of her career as an academic at the University of Notre Dame.

Barrett clerked under late Supreme Court justice Atonin Scalia, a conservative superstar whose worldview she openly admires.

She is a proponent of Scalia's "textualist" legal philosophy, which interprets the US constitution based on its original wording and intent, not in the current social context.

Conservatives see this as restricting a judge's ability to create law from the bench, though liberals tend to view it as a means of restraining progressivism.

Democrats say Barrett might undo healthcare protections by dismantling the Affordable Care Act and could seek to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that prevented a ban on a woman's right to obtain an abortion.

Barrett's religious views under the spotlight

In the lead up to her nomination, Barrett was favored by the religious-conservative wing of Donald Trump's (74) coalition to replace the recently deceased liberal icon, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a pioneer for women's rights.

Barrett, seen as the ideological opposite of Ginsburg, is a devout Catholic, though she belongs to a community known as the People of Praise that charts its own dogmatic path in many ways.

The confirmation hearings in the Senate revealed some of her personal views, which indicated that in the past she was associated with groups who thoroughly oppose abortion and sought to restrict LGBTQ+ rights.

Barrett pledged that, if she was confirmed, she would reject any form of discrimination and racism, though how she views the legality of abortion is less clear. She has also taken an expansive view on personal gun rights and refused to take a stance on the climate crisis during the confirmation hearings.

After Barrett was put forward by Trump, she faced pointed questions in the Senate, as many Democrats worried about her political and religious views.

Democrats not only opposed her judicial philosophy but also rejected the premise of Trump appointed a justice so close to the November 3 election, with voting already under way.

Barrett will be the only member of the Supreme Court who did not come from the elite Harvard or Yale universities.

Cover photo: Greg Nash/Pool The Hill/AP/dpa

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