On June 27, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. The 81-year-old judge, who was the longest-serving justice on the current court, will step down on July 31.
His retirement has monumental implications for both the court and the conservative movement. Justice Kennedy was the swing vote on the court; he often held the deciding vote between liberal and conservative justices on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. In his time on the court, Kennedy repeatedly upheld abortion rights.
At the news of his resignation, many pro-choice public figures and politicians began to ring the warning bells. They feared that whoever President Trump appointed to the court would be the vote needed to overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in 1973.
The hysteria on the left underscores the importance of President Trump's second appointment to the Supreme Court. After the 2016 election, President Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch to replace conservative originalist Antonin Scalia, who died in February of the election year.
Gorsuch has proven to be a reliable conservative. Conservatives are praying that President Trump chooses another such judge to replace Kennedy.
One potential appointee to the court is Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett, 46, has spent the majority of her career as a law professor at Notre Dame. She is a practicing Catholic and mother of seven children—two of whom she and her husband adopted from Haiti.
Barrett is a favorite among social conservatives. She clerked for Scalia, she has experience on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and she has been reliably pro-life.
However, as Adam O'Neal, assistant editorial features editor for The Wall Street Journal and former Vatican correspondent, warns, there will be a vicious anti-Catholic attack on Barrett if she's nominated.
It's not a prediction. That's precisely what happened to Barrett last year when she was appointed to a seat on the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. During her nomination hearing, several Democratic Senators—most notably Senator Diane Feinstein—took issue with her orthodox Catholicism. They believed her faith meant she couldn't be a good judge.
“The dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said during Barrett’s hearing. “That’s of concern.”
In plain English, Feinstein was saying that checking the "Catholic" box on a form is fine, but being a believing Catholic—one who follows the teachings of the Church and attends Mass every Sunday—is not. Feinstein will gladly have Nancy Pelosi, but she would not condone Amy Coney Barrett holding an influential role in the U.S government.
Feinstein's attack of Barrett was followed up by a hit piece by the New York Times. The Times suggested that a religious group she belongs to, People of Praise, was actually a cult. However, a deeper look at the group, which is ecumenical in nature, revealed that it's an organization of lay people who join together to create a community that encourages holiness.
“Through my interactions over the years, I’ve found that these are lovely, earnest people who want to build an intentional community for the purpose of loving and serving others,” says O. Carter Snead, a Notre Dame law professor who isn’t a member, told the Wall Street Journal.
People of Praise’s current leader Craig Lent, an electrical engineering professor at Notre Dame, also spoke to the Journal about the assertions that the group would sway Barrett's decisions on cases.
“We’re quite about personal freedom," said Lent, who chuckled at the idea that anyone within the group would try to influence Barrett's jurisprudence. "The only person you can control is yourself."
The media has used anti-Catholic attacks to target Barrett because there is no other weakness to attack. When she was nominated to the district court, she was unanimously endorsed by her colleagues—even those who disagree with her conservative opinions.
They wrote, "She possesses in abundance all of the other qualities that shape extraordinary jurists: discipline, intellect, wisdom, impeccable temperament, and above all, fundamental decency and humanity.”
Her students at Notre Dame—hundreds of them—also endorsed her. They also underscored her qualities that fit her to be a judge.
“Our religious, cultural, and political views span a wide spectrum. Despite the many and genuine differences among us, we are united in our conviction that Professor Barrett would make an exceptional federal judge," they said.
Since her name came up on the list for the nomination, liberals haven't been idle. On July 2, the Center for American Progress blatantly lied about her judicial record.
The organization's Twitter, WhyCourtsMatter, wrote that while on the district court, she sided against an African American worker, upholding a "separate-but-equal" arrangement by the company.
However, as the National Review points out, Barrett was not on the Seventh Circuit Appeals Court until months after the decision was rendered. The decision was written by a woman, Judge Diane Sykes, but Barrett had nothing to do with it.
According to CNN, President Trump and Vice President Trump have already met with Barrett, along with two other potential Supreme Court nominees. President Trump is expected to announce his nomination on Monday, July 9.
If he does choose to nominate Barrett, it will send a clear message. It will tell liberals two things. First, a strong religious faith does not disqualify someone from a position in the highest ranks of the U.S. government. Second, you will no longer be allowed to falsely represent the beliefs of the American people.
It will also send a strong message to the Conservative coalition of Catholics and Evangelicals that first banded together around Ronald Reagan. President Trump will clearly show them that he has our back. He's serious about his promises, and we have not lost the battle.
It holds this lesson: "Believing Catholics and Evangelicals will continue to make their contributions to the common good of this country. You will live with us. If we’re going to have peace, we’re going to make it together."