When President Trump performed his constitutional duty by nominating Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the nation’s highest court in order to fill the seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the nation collectively held its breath. In a year that has witnessed pastors threatened with jail for holding church services, violent riots over racism in the nation’s suburbs, and a hyper-partisan election season, Americans seem braced for a confirmation battle of epic proportions.
However, since her nomination, the left has encountered two major problems when it comes to vilifying Barrett. First, she is hardly a political partisan intent on interpreting the Constitution in whatever way helps suits her policy preferences. In fact, she’s said exactly the opposite.
In an October 2019 speech at Princeton, Barrett flatly explained that “both partisanship and the imposition of personal policy preferences are incompatible with the role of judging.” As Barrett described it, the Constitution is a supermajority agreement that stands sacrosanct above the whims of a temporary majority or the personal beliefs of black-robed judges.
The greatest enticement any judge faces, Barrett said, is “the temptation to use the power of judicial review to advance their own political preferences . . . Judges are duty-bound to enforce the supermajority rules of the Constitution, even when they lead to results that a judge despises.” This is hardly the screed of a woman hellbent on doing whatever is necessary to impose her personal beliefs on the country.
The second problem the left faces in its fervor to smear Barrett is that she is a woman. This makes it difficult for Democrats to trot out the tried-and-true accusations of sexism. Rather, she’s a mom with an impeccable professional record to go with her Honda Odyssey. So, what do you do when you can’t paint a nominee for the nation’s highest court as a partisan hack, nor accuse her of #MeToo-style sexual assault? You brand her a racist for daring to adopt two black children — even though criticizing white women for adopting children of a different race is “literally” racist.
To deal with the blinding hypocrisy, Prof. Ibram X. Kendi came up with a novel evaluation. In a tweet, the author of “How to Be an Antiracist” compared Barrett to “White colonizers” that are latent racists who only adopt Black children in an effort to civilize “‘savage’ children in the ‘superior’ ways of White people while using them as props in their lifelong pictures of denial . . ..”
These attacks on Barrett’s family are morally repugnant. Nearly 20 million children worldwide are orphans, over 150 million have only one living parent, and untold numbers have been abandoned by their families altogether. Criticizing Barrett for adopting children is proof that there are no legitimate criticisms about her qualifications. It’s no wonder that the source of Barrett’s motivation for adopting is also the greatest source of vitriol against her — her Christianity.
As Senator Josh Hawley pointed out during his opening statement Monday, during her confirmation hearings in September 2017, Senator Dianne Feinstein infamously grilled Barrett about her Catholicism and concluded, “the dogma lives loudly within you.” Senator Dick Durbin piled on during the same hearing, asking Barrett: “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” Senator Hawley is right: These questions brazenly tested Barrett’s faith, despite Article VI of the Constitution which explicitly forbids religious tests for office.
Since her nomination by President Trump, attacks against her sincere religious beliefs have only intensified. In one notable example, Ron Charles, a journalist for the Washington Post, sneered on Twitter that Barrett said her legal career “is but a means to an end…and that end is building the Kingdom of God.” Building the Kingdom of God, of course, is the end to which all sincere Christians dedicate their lives. When it comes to Barrett, leftists like Feinstein, Durbin, and Charles are saying the quiet part out loud: Bigotry is wrong unless we can use it to our political advantage.
Barrett’s judicial record, not her faith, should be on trial when the Senate holds her confirmation hearings. At an event hosted by Hillsdale College in Washington, D.C., she was asked about the role faith might play in the life of a judicial nominee. Barrett responded, “We have a long tradition of religious tolerance in this country.”
Left with few weapons to scuttle the nomination of the judge from Indiana who drives a minivan, Democrats seem to have forgotten such a tradition ever existed.
Keisha Russell is counsel to First Liberty Institute, a non-profit law firm dedicated to defending religious freedom for all. Read more at FirstLiberty.org.