Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee started confirmation hearings in a rushed effort to appoint Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the seat left vacant by late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
This reckless effort is happening despite continuing speculation about Barrett’s nomination announcement event being a coronavirus superspreader that led to an outbreak amongst White House staff, administration officials, and President Donald Trump. The event happened before Ginsburg was even buried, and Trump went against her dying, public wish of hoping the next president fills her vacant seat.
Barrett, a Notre Dame law professor who serves as a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, would be nothing short of a disaster for the progress this country has made, and is a threat to existing monumental rulings on equality.
She has a history which shows she lacks the ability to separate church and state, and allows her personal religious beliefs to influence her decisions in a secular country with no official religion. If confirmed, she would be a threat to Muslims and marginalized communities nationwide.
Conservatives have used a false talking point about how people oppose her for being Catholic, but don’t get that propaganda twisted. Nobody serious about what’s at stake here has an issue with her Catholicism.
What we have an issue with is her beliefs influencing her decisions on Roe v. Wade. We have an issue with her religious beliefs influencing her decisions on cases impacting other marginalized minorities and how it would affect things like the Muslim ban, LGBTQ rights, and immigrant rights. The list goes on.
Imagine if a Muslim judge based their rulings on religious bias. Let’s say this hypothetical judge got a case where a Muslim shop employee refused to sell someone pork because of their religious beliefs, got fired for not doing their job, and took it to court to say their workplace discriminated against them religiously. Then, a Muslim judge sided with them despite that employee forcing their religious beliefs on customers, playing victim, and getting away with it.
That all sounds quite absurd, no? Yet it’s something a lot with Christians get away with. It’s something a conservative Supreme Court allows them to get away with it. More recently, the court sided with a baker who refused to serve and make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Because in a country with “no official religion,” it’s always “religious freedom for me, but not for thee.”
The precedent tells us that the Supreme Court’s lack of balance will only result in further discriminatory rulings. The Supreme Court upheld Trump’s racist and discriminatory Muslim ban. This case was set up to fail from the get-go because the court was already skewed to the right. If the higher court heard more cases about Muslim discrimination, Barrett would skew the votes even further to the right.
Muslim Advocates, a civil rights group, also pointed out how her confirmation would hurt Muslims civil rights, for the innocent and the guilty:
“In cases involving Muslims swept up in post-9/11 detentions and surveillance programs, the Court has refused to grant any remedy even when it was absolutely clear that the plaintiffs had been innocent of any connection to terrorism. The Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal and in Ziglar v. Abbasi fashioned procedural barriers to recovery. As a result, Muslims swept up in overbroad counter-terrorism programs are left without any remedy. In 2019, in a reversal of an 11th Circuit decision, the Supreme Court in Dunn v. Ray allowed the state of Alabama to execute a Muslim man without honoring his request to die with an imam by his side, though the same facility regularly allowed its Christian chaplains into the chamber. People of all religions should be able to practice their faith.”
Now let’s briefly intersect being Muslim and a woman to see how Barrett would impact us.
Barrett refused to disclose her beliefs on access to healthcare such as contraceptives to the Senate, and has spoken at anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ events, and among many other things, she even wrote regulations that allow colleges to favor men accused of sexual assault over victims and survivors of assault.
So Muslim women will unfortunately have an even heavier burden with a 6-3 Supreme Court if Barrett is confirmed, which she likely will be with the shameless Republican-majority Senate.
Our civil rights, voting rights, bodily autonomy, and access to our families in various countries, is all at stake and at the mercy of the conservative highest court in the land.
It’s a tragedy that fate would allow a woman like Barrett, who had the opportunities in law that she had because of women like Ginsburg, to replace Ginsburg in the court while working to undo the monumental equality measures Ginsburg contributed to and built her legacy on.