Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett has been having a rough go at it since becoming the sole woman justice to side with her conservative male colleagues in the decision to upend nearly 50 years of precedent and overturn Roe v. Wade.
Last month, after the Dobbs draft leaked but prior to the final ruling being announced, The Guardian published a bombshell report about People of Praise, an anti-LGBTQ Christian cult where she once served as a
handmaid female leader. The report included accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior against the group’s leader Kevin Ranaghan and his wife, Dorothy, who Barrett lived with for two years in the mid ’90s.
Then last week, a large group of peaceful protestors gathered outside her suburban home in Virginia, waving signs that read “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries,” “Our rights are not up for debate,” “No forced birth,” and “Liar” with a photo of Barrett printed underneath.
And now this week, she’s the subject of a damning op-ed by Slate political writer Mark Joseph Stern titled “Amy Coney Barrett Is in Over Her Head” that details all the ways in which the 50-year-old mother of seven, who was nominated by Donald Trump to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020, remains “ill-prepared” for her job on the Supreme Court.
Part of the problem is that, of all the current justices, Barrett had the least amount of preparation and training for the unique requirements of the job. She spent most of her career as a professor at Notre Dame Law School, where her students chose her as distinguished professor of the year three times. Her academic work was often dry and technical, verging on esoteric, and she avoided committing herself to any controversial ideas. Donald Trump appointed her to a federal appeals court in 2017, where she served for less than three years before joining the Supreme Court. Her opinions seemed calculated to improve her chances for a SCOTUS seat. No other member of today’s court had so little experience in public service before their elevation.
In addition to being wholly inexperienced, Stern adds that Barrett hasn’t done enough or, frankly, anything to try to restore faith in the court after her eleventh hour confirmation in October 2020 following that disastrous White House COVID-19 superspreader event one month prior:
Barrett has done little to dispel the fumes of partisanship and illegitimacy that poisoned her appointment. Her attempts at public relations have backfired. She inked a lucrative book deal for her memoirs before she had produced a scintilla of a public thought. In September, the justice declared that she and her colleagues were not “a bunch of partisan hacks” while standing next to McConnell at a center named after him. (She limited press access to the event.) In April, she urged Americans to “read the opinions” before concluding that the court’s work was “purely results-driven.”
Stern also calls Barrett’s performance during oral arguments “befuddling”, filled with awkward questions and transparent judicial theater. The when the decisions come down, she retreats into the shadows like a ghost, offering neither concurrences and dissents explaining her votes:
The justice wrote nothing in Dobbs to tell us why she overruled Roe. She wrote nothing in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, a brutal 5–4 assault on tribal sovereignty. Nothing in West Virginia v. EPA hobbling climate regulations; or Kennedy v. Bremerton allowing Christian prayer in public schools; or Carson v. Makin forcing public funding of religious education; or Vega v. Tekoh undermining Miranda warnings; or the brutal habeas decisions that let states execute innocent people.
Things also aren’t looking so hot for Barrett on Twitter right now. Here’s what folx are saying over there…
Hey, while you’re here, check out Kate McKinnon‘s impersonation of Barrett on SNL from earlier this year...