Ava Sexton, Grade 11, Staff Writer
In late September, a wave of grief gripped the country with the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. While the country mourned, President Donald Trump began the process of appointing a new Supreme Court Justice to take her place.
Controversy broke out with this decision; many believed that when a Supreme Court Justice passes close to an election, a new replacement should not be chosen until the next president is elected. Nevertheless, President Trump proceeded with appointing Amy Coney Barrett, an American lawyer and jurist, to replace the late Ginsburg.
Ginsburg said on her deathbed, "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed." Some took Trump’s quick ushering in of a new justice as a sign of disrespect towards the highly praised “Notorious RBG,” as Ginsburg was nicknamed.
It was initially promising that Trump chose a woman to replace Ginsburg; having a female justice led people to assume that women’s rights would continue to be protected the way they were under Ginsburg. However, Barrett’s views are far from what one would consider as progressive: she has taken pro-life and anti-marriage equality stances on key issues. Though abortion rights and same-sex marriage are disputed in the United States, they are both protected by previous Supreme Court decisions. Amidst Barrett’s confirmation, some women and LGBT+ citizens fear that their rights will be overturned with a conservative majority in the Supreme Court.
Controversy also arose over Barrett's qualifications. Though she supplied 1,800 pages of documents stating her legal experience, this was meager compared to other justices currently serving on the Supreme Court. Justice Neil Gorsuch supplied 100 times that before being appointed to the Supreme Court. Brett Kavanaugh supplied 1 million pages of documents. Moreover, Barrett has almost no experience in court, trying cases or arguing appeals, and, in her confirmation hearing, failed to remember more than three cases during her two years in private practice.
Given the dissension surrounding Barrett, specifically regarding her views concerning the rights of women and members of the LGBT+ community, many high school students began to worry for their futures. Students who were politically involved took to social media, expressing their concerns about the future of marriage equality and abortion legislation. Trends began on social media, with teen activists spreading the quote “I have to worry about my rights at 16.”
In order to assess the opinion of students from the High School of American Studies on Barrett, two anonymous interviews were conducted. Both students are LGBT+ and biologically female. A transcript of the interview is as follows:
Do you think the inauguration of Amy Coney Barrett into the Supreme Court before an election was appropriate? Why or why not?
Student A: In my opinion, the inauguration of ACB just before an election isn’t really appropriate because of prior precedents set. In 2016, Obama attempted to nominate Merrick Garland when a seat was open, but it was denied because it was an election year. Appointing ACB completely disregards that precedent.
Though it is not likely marriage equality will be overturned, as a member of the LGBT+ community, what are your opinions on her stances on marriage equality?
Student B: I think it’s dangerous because she clearly allows her religious views to interfere with her decisions when they’re meant to be unbiased. Based on interviews, she is clearly not unbiased, and I believe this will get in the way of her making qualified decisions.
Amy Coney Barrett has strongly stated opposition to abortion rights. Do you think the Supreme Court will attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade? What are your concerns regarding that?
Student B: I’m not sure if they will make an active attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade, but it is not something to dismiss especially because the Court has a conservative majority. While it does not directly affect me at the moment, I do believe it is the woman’s right to choose and there is no political, non-religious reason why it should be overturned.
Political differences aside, do you think Amy Coney Barrett is qualified to be a Supreme Court justice? Why or why not?
Student A: I don’t think ACB is qualified to be a Supreme Court justice because she’s only been serving on a federal court since 2017. Three years is not enough experience in most fields, let alone one that makes important decisions that affect the American population.
Do you think it is a good thing that we have another woman in the Supreme court?
Student B: While it’s a good thing to have a woman in the court, she is still taking advantage of the doors that RGB opened. She is trying to undo the progress Ginsburg made. While, as a feminist, I consider women in the Supreme Court a good thing, when she is trying to put down other women in a position of power, it becomes not a good thing.
How do you think Ginsburg’s legacy will affect how people view Barrett?
Student B: RBG was well-liked among many people, especially young people who are grateful for what she’s done in the Supreme Court. I think many people will not forget that, especially given that there is another woman in the Supreme Court trying to overturn everything she’s done.
The surveyed students from HSAS are unsatisfied with Trump both for appointing a new Justice before an election and with whom he chose to appoint. One thing is for certain: the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett has brought distress to communities whose rights are seemingly more in jeopardy now than they were under Ginsburg. The late Notorious RBG will be greatly missed, and her legacy will continue to affect United States politics and judicial decisions for years to come.