What’s At Stake Now that Amy Coney Barrett Is in the Supreme Court?

Vivian De Waart

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has shocked and induced fear into many. President Donald Trump’s nominee, U.S Federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett, has officially filled Ginsburg’s seat as of Monday 10/26. Amy Coney Barrett is a favored conservative electee, making several laws and rights at stake of removal or alterations.  

The Supreme Court works off of a majority opinion basis and the election of Barrett would leave the court with a 6-3 conservative to liberal ratio. 

“I think it’s important to note that right now, although it has been in the 20th century, right now the court is not that liberal, even before Amy Coney Barrett,” said Rob Allen, a government teacher at Da Vinci Communications High School. “It’s got a conservative majority… and it’s going to continue to have a conservative majority.”

One of the biggest issues at stake is health care. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or better known as Obamacare is constantly being debated from the left and right-wing. This act slowed the cost of rising health care and allowed those with pre-existing medical conditions to have access to health insurance. On November 10th, the Supreme Court is set to have oral arguments regarding the Trump Administration’s claims that the “mandates in the act are unconstitutional,” (Epstein). If the ACA is repealed, 20 million Americans will lose health care, 12 million of them being on Medicaid (Rapfogel, Calsyn, Seeberger). This is also the same law that allows children to have the same insurance plan as their parents until the age of 26. 

The Supreme Court had already ruled to uphold Obamacare twice when Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the four liberal justices keeping the ACA in place. One more solid conservative justice would conclude that John Roberts could not offer a swing vote due to the conservative majority. Barrett has publicly stated her opposition to Roberts ruling and believes that Obamacare is not a constitutional law (Chapin). Losing health care exacerbates health issues for people of color, people with disabilities, low-income individuals, and families especially considering the coronavirus pandemic still exists.

In 1973, the Supreme Court decided to legalize abortion due to the precedent case Roe v. Wade. Abortion was legalized due to a 5 to 4 majority where Justice John Roberts voted with the liberal Justices regardless of his mainly conservative viewpoint. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death leaves one less liberal in the Supreme Court putting the legality of abortion at risk of being removed. Barrett showed her disagreement with the outcome of the case, saying that the court made an “erroneous decision”. Conservative justices tend to follow pro-life beliefs and policies making abortion one of the top issues that will likely be delegalized. 

Birth control also falls under female reproductive health care. The Supreme Court could decide to support companies who do not cover contraception like birth control pills or IUDs in their insurance plans. 

“It’s not just the things that we worry about that are in the courts now, or that could happen that are bad. It’s the things that we want to do to make the world better when it comes to women’s reproductive wellbeing that could be endangered by the balance,” said Rachel Fey, Senior Director of Public Policy at Power to Decide

One organization that is particularly not in favor of Barrett’s election is the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which fully supports LGBTQ+ Americans. 

“The President has dramatically altered the judiciary to try to dismantle hard-fought rights and progress secured over decades- LGBTQ rights, voting rights, reproductive rights, and more,” said Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign in a statement released by the HRC (Morrow). 

Barrett continues to publicly display bitterness towards the LGBTQ community. She defended the Court’s objectors of the Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark case for same-sex marriage, and questioned the court ruling of that case. She also claims that Title IX, the law protects people from discrimination based on sex regarding education, did not apply to transgender individuals and said that it was a “strain on the text” to reach that interpretation (Morrow). Barrett also continuously misgenders transgender individuals saying that a transgender woman was a “physiological male”. 

Gun control is another topic that will likely be altered with the election of Amy Coney Barrett in the Supreme Court. It is possible that the Supreme Court would see an increase in the second amendment or gun control related cases. In a 2019 dissent, Barrett stated that people with felony convictions should be allowed to carry and own a gun, but that they still should not have the right to vote. 

However, it was within President Trump’s constitutional right to nominate Barrett as a Supreme Court Justice. The hypocrisy protestors of the situation said is that Obama had nominated Merrick Garland in 2016 after Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. This nomination was quickly shut down despite the election being 9 months away. Trump was able to nominate Barrett before the election occurred to ensure he would have a say in who the next Justice would be. Barrett’s confirmation of her position in court was set 8 days before the presidential election.  

The election of Amy Coney Barrett will likely change rights and regulations that have been passed to support Americans. At this point, many say it is not about helping the economy or revisiting precedent court cases, but rather about stripping away human rights from those who have fought for them. Barrett has particularly stated her opposition towards protecting society’s most marginalized and vulnerable group rights which raises concerns about her undetermined bias and prejudice as a Justice.