Search results for "Amy Coney Barrett"

This week's pivotal Supreme Court cases may finally reveal where Amy Coney Barrett really stands

Around this time last year, conservatives were singing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett's praises as many surmised that she would be another pawn on former President Donald Trump's political board.

When she spoke at the White House Rose Garden last year, her high regard for religion and esteemed level of respect for Justice Antonin Scalia made things appear as if the Republican Party finally had enough conservative-leaning justices to do their bidding.

However, a new op-ed sheds light on why Barrett remains a mystery for many Republicans. According to New York Times Magazine staff writer Emily Bazelon, Barrett has taken a relatively tactical approach to work on the bench; an approach that appears to be relatively opposite of former President Donald Trump's first justice nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

"Justice Barrett has been low-key on the bench, too. Justice Neil Gorsuch, Mr. Trump's first nominee, was far more aggressive out of the gate, correcting Chief Justice John Roberts at one of his first oral arguments and writing sweeping opinions that brim with self-certainty. Justice Barrett has written a total of eight opinions (the fewest among the justices last term). Her tone in writing and when she asks questions at arguments tends to be forthright but diplomatic.

"We don't know the full measure of Amy Coney Barrett yet," said New York University law professor Melissa Murray of Barrett.

Bazelon also referenced instances where Barrett's true legal strategy have been evident. "The best evidence for Justice Barrett's cautious strategy on the court is a brief opinion she wrote last June in a major case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia," Brazelon wrote. "In 2018 a Catholic social services agency sued the city for not renewing its contract to place foster children. The government claimed the agency had violated its rules against discrimination by refusing to place kids with same-sex couples."

Unfortunately for conservatives, Barrett's legal strategy leaves a margin of uncertainty; a level of unpredictability Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) may not have bargained for in his pursuit to stack the courts with archconservative justices. This coming week's legal arguments may offer more insight on where she really stands.

'Amy Coney Barrett is a coward': Conservatives rage at the newest justice over vaccine mandate case

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Thursday declined to overturn a vaccine mandate that had been implemented at the University of Indiana -- and many Trump supporters are feeling betrayed.

Via SCOTUSBlog, Barrett turned down the lawsuit filed by University of Indiana students without explanation and without referring it to the full court.

This enraged several Trump supporters who believed that Barrett would be a hard-right ideologue who would help them overturn vaccine mandates throughout the United States.

Check out some reactions from angry Trump fans below.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett called on to recuse in big dark money case

Three Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday urged U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett to recuse herself from a pending case revolving around the nonprofit arm of Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-funded political advocacy group that spent heavily to ensure Barrett's confirmation to the bench last October.

In a letter (pdf) to Barrett, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) argue that Americans for Prosperity's big spending campaign in support of the newest justice's confirmation casts serious doubt on whether she can be impartial in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Rodriquez.

The Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) is seeking to strike down a California law that requires certain nonprofit groups to disclose their major donors to the state attorney general's office. In March 2019, a federal appeals court upheld the California law on the grounds that it "serves an important governmental interest," prompting AFPF to take its case to the high court, which agreed to hear the challenge earlier this year.

With oral arguments set to begin on April 26, Whitehouse, Blumenthal, and Johnson call on Barrett to "consider seriously and address publicly the question of recusal in this case" given Americans for Prosperity's "full-scale campaign" in favor of her confirmation last year. The Democratic lawmakers argue that "there is no reasonable difference" between AFPF and Americans for Prosperity.

"The American people are alarmed about the seemingly dominant influence of special interests on our politics and government," the lawmakers write. "Our judiciary is a target of this massive influence apparatus. Now, in AFPF, the court takes up an important case that squarely implicates the power of big special interests to exercise their influence from behind veils of secrecy."

In an amicus brief (pdf) filed with the Supreme Court last month, Whitehouse and 14 other Democratic senators warned that a ruling in AFPF's favor would allow "dark-money contributors to secure broad constitutional protection of their anonymous influence, so they can attack any and all disclosure requirements in other contexts—a 'moon shot' to lock in dark money's hold on our politics and policymaking, possibly forever."

"The flotilla of anonymously funded and largely industry-aligned nonprofit organizations filing amicus briefs in support of [AFPF] should set off alarm bells that something bigger than California's tax disclosure law is at issue," the senators write. "The dots are not hard to connect. The bigger prize being sought is blanket constitutional protection of dark money and secret influence."

Vox's Ian Millhiser echoed that warning over the weekend, writing that the conservative-dominated Supreme Court's ruling "could allow political groups to operate with far more secrecy, allowing wealthy donors to shape American politics in the shadows."

Why Amy Coney Barrett's 'brand of conservatism' has changed the Supreme Court more than Brett Kavanaugh: legal analyst

Although Donald Trump went down in history as a one-term president when he was voted out of office in 2020, he accomplished something that the United States' last two one-term presidents—Democrat Jimmy Carter and Republican George H.W. Bush — didn't: Trump appointed three justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017, Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and Justice Amy Coney Barrett in 2020 were all Trump nominees. In an article published by CNN's website on May 5, legal analyst Joan Biskupic lays out some reasons why Barrett has been more of a game-changer on the High Court than Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh was a game-changer in that he replaced a libertarian: former Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired in 2018. Appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, Kennedy was a right-wing libertarian who was fiscally conservative but socially liberal and often sided with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg over far-right social conservatives such as Justice Clarence Thomas and the late Justice Antonin Scalia when it came to abortion or gay rights. And Trump replaced a libertarian with a social conservative.

But the change from Ginsburg to Barrett was more dramatic, as Trump replaced Ginsburg — the High Court's most famous liberal — with a severe social conservative who is even more to the right than Kavanaugh. Barrett is very much in the Scalia/Thomas vein.

Yet Barrett, as Biskupic explains in her article, is more low-key in her demeanor than Scalia.

Biskupic explains, "Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett has aligned most often with Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch in her first months on the bench…. As she has adopted the legal method of her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett has avoided the flamethrower rhetoric that defined him and some followers on the bench today. Of the cases heard in oral arguments and resolved already this term, she has voted 100% of the time with Thomas and Gorsuch."

Comparing Kavanaugh and Barrett, Biskupic observes, "Barrett's pattern so far contrasts with that of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who in the conservative bloc, has sided mainly with Roberts on the center-right. Differences between the newest appointees of former President Donald Trump could play out in major cases to be decided in the next two months over the Affordable Care Act, voting rights, and religious liberties when tested against LGBTQ interests, as well as next session in a 2nd Amendment gun rights case already on the calendar. The justices are also considering an abortion rights case for the 2021-22 term that would further illuminate Barrett's brand of conservatism."

Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed by President George W. Bush, has been right-wing in his judicial philosophy but more nuanced than Thomas or Scalia. And Biskupic notes that when Kavanaugh and Barrett are compared, Kavanaugh has been more likely to agree with Roberts.

"Kavanaugh has sidled since his 2018 appointment toward Roberts," Biskupic observes. "The chief and Kavanaugh have shared among the highest voting alignments for the past three years, according to statistics compiled by SCOTUSblog. Yet patterns of statistical togetherness go only so far. In several important cases when Roberts joined the liberal side, Kavanaugh remained with the right wing…. Barrett has voted so far in only a dozen cases that have been argued. That's where she has consistently been with Thomas and Gorsuch."

'Gorsuch wants to do horrible things': Right-wing justices battle for control of Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court's newly tilted right-wing majority will have a chance to leave its stamp on cases involving abortion, gun rights and torture, and the rulings will reveal who controls the court after Donald Trump jammed through three hardline conservatives.

The confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes away Chief Justice John Roberts' power to cast the deciding vote on any ruling, but legal experts disagree who will drive the majority's opinions in the session that starts this week, reported The Guardian.

"Roberts's ambition is to keep the law as narrow as possible and keep as much of the court's legitimacy as possible while twirling ever toward the Republicans' agenda," said Elie Mystal, a justice correspondent for The Nation. "[Brett] Kavanaugh likes beer. Amy Coney Barrett likes Jesus. These are fundamentally narrow positions. Gorsuch wants to fundamentally change the law and reframe the way we think about the law. [Neil] Gorsuch wants to do horrible things, but ambitious things. He's got the intellectual tools to accomplish it."

Another court watcher thinks Justice Clarence Thomas will emerge as the most powerful member of the court.

"Roberts is only marginally in charge to the extent that he can bring Kavanaugh or Barrett with him," said Josh Blackman, of the South Texas College of Law Houston. "I think we are living in Justice Thomas's world. He is always thinking ahead several steps and has built an army of supporters."

Barrett and Justice Samuel Alito recently made unusually defensive remarks about the court's legitimacy after Mitch McConnell used his power as Senate majority leader to engineer a 6-3 conservative majority, which then allowed Texas to outlaw most abortions through its controversial "shadow docket" process.

"I think the thing to watch is whether Roberts can pick off one of the members of the [conservative] super majority to have the result come out differently than the hard right would want," said Garrett Epps, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. "I think it may not be his court, but his role is by far the most interesting of any of the justices because he is – and he alone – an institutionalist, in the sense that he really cares about the Supreme Court and his place in history, more than he really cares about his own policy goals."

'Next level BS': Barrett tried to claim the US Supreme Court isn’t full 'of partisan hacks.' Critics brought the receipts

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court whose nomination was rammed through the Senate by then-Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, on Sunday told guests invited to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, "My goal today is to convince you that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks."

She was roundly criticized and mocked for that claim, which was reported by the Louisville Courier Journal.

Barrett was nominated immediately after liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, before she had even been buried. She was confirmed one week before the November 2020 election in a 52-48 vote, entirely on party lines, and sworn in the very next day, all thanks to the efforts of Senator Mitch McConnell. McConnell in 2016 infamously blocked President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, from even getting a committee hearing, then pushed through Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh before Barrett's nomination.

Here's Senator McConnell celebrating Barrett's confirmation, which indeed was on former U.S. Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's birthday:

The court now sits with a 6-3 highly-conservative majority, and some across the country feel several of the conservatives have flouted judicial ethics by weighing in on issues, directly or in directly. Justice Clarence Thomas's wife, Ginni Thomas, is a far right wing lobbyist who used to run a Tea Party organization. She is believed to have had a hand in President Donald Trump's expulsion of transgender service members from the U.S. Armed Forces. And Justice Kavanaugh, infamously during his Senate confirmation hearing, infamously threatened revenge against Democrats.

In fact, as Amy Coney Barrett was being sworn in, The New Republic published an opinion piece stating she and Justice Kavanaugh "have demonstrated this week that they should be thought of as political operatives, not justices."

Barrett of course brought this perception on herself, allowing her nomination to be pushed through in the weeks before a highly controversial presidential election, appearing at a super-spreader event at the White House celebrating her nomination, then later standing on the White House balcony with President Trump, days before the election, all of which effectively worked as an endorsement of his re-election.

L.A. Times columnist Jackie Calmes noted at the time just how unprecedented this single act was:

Many are mocking Barrett's claim.

The Texas abortion ban faced tough questions at the Supreme Court — even from Trump-appointed justices

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Monday on the Texas law that effectively bans most abortions. Questions from two of Trump's appointees, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, signal a skepticism of the law's constitutionality.

The Texas law has a novel means of enforcement. The state does not enforce the law, but rather allows private citizens to sue anyone who abets an abortion and for them to collect $10,000 if they win, effectively placing bounties on abortions. The enforcement mechanism allows the bill to dodge judicial review. Anyone who wishes to challenge the constitutionality of the law would usually sue the state, but because private citizens are the enforcers, the law intentionally leaves it a legally gray area. Justice Kavanaugh took issue with that particular provision and pressed Texas on it.

"Can I ask you about the implications of your position for other federal rights?"

Kavanaugh referred to a brief from the Firearms Policy Coalition, which said that the law might have unintended consequences and backfire on conservatives. The firearm rights group said that gun control advocates might be able to copy the language of the abortion law and apply it to Second Amendment rights.

Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone represented Texas and told Kavanaugh that Congress would be able to pass laws bolstering rights to protect them, such as free speech rights and Second Amendment rights. Kavanaugh responded, "Well for some of those examples, I think it would be quite difficult to get legislation through Congress."

Kavanaugh also asked Stone about a hypothetical law that would allow private citizens to sue anyone that sells an AR-15 for $1 million. But Stone dodged his questioning and responded "whether or not federal court review is available does not turn on the nature of the right."

Barrett also took issue with the enforcement mechanism. The law leaves in the air whether or not citizens can bring new lawsuits against abortion providers.

"You cannot get global relief," Barrett said to Stone. She then asked him if the law was "on an individual by individual basis." Stone said Barrett was correct and that there was no limit to how many private citizens can sue.

Meanwhile, Barrett showed sympathy to the abortion providers' arguments, asking Marc Hearron, who represented the abortion providers, if the law allows a "full airing" of the providers' constitutional rights. The law forbids providers from using the right to an abortion as a defense until they have been sued.

In September, the Supreme Court denied an injunction filed by abortion providers to stop the Texas law from going into effect, which anti-abortion activists cheered. But Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University, told The New York Times that because the court agreed to listen to arguments, "someone who was not on the fence is probably back on the fence."

MSNBC host details 'weird baroque tradition' that allowed Trump-picked justices to lie 'under oath' on womens’ rights

Did the three Trump-nominated U.S. Supreme Court justices lie under oath? MSNBC’s Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber is asking that question as he details the "weird baroque tradition" that allowed the justices to lie under oath about their true position on women's constitutional rights.

According to Melber, history indicates that “the Supreme Court has long ruled these are constitutional rights. In fact, few members of the Court openly say they will just ignore precedent or reverse that… It has become kind of a weird baroque tradition for even the Republican appointees to say under oath all sorts of words about Roe being a type of settled precedent.”

During his November 30 segment of "The Beat with Ari," he discussed the historical timeline involving Roe vs. Wade. As the Supreme Court prepares for its review of a case that challenges the precedent set with Roe v. Wade, Melber is raising questions about the Trump-appointed justices. While all three, under oath, claimed that they accepted the law of the land, their conservative values suggest otherwise.

Melber also featured clips of Trump-selected Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett as they shared their perspectives on Roe v. Wade.

"I understand the importance of the precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade," Kavanaugh previously said. The video then shifts to Barrett, who weighed in with her perspective back in 2016. "I don't think that abortion or the right to abortion would change," she said at the Public Policy Institute in Jacksonville, Fla.

"The Supreme Court of the United States is held in Roe v. Wade that a fetus is not a person. That's the law of the land," Gorsuch said in March 2017. "I accept the law of the land."

Despite the justices' previously publicized remarks on Roe v. Wade is law, Melber noted how conservative lawyers and judges in lower levels of government are still seeking to overturn the American precedent.

Watch the video above, via MSNBC.

Mitch McConnell torched for leaving out 'key detail' in Supreme Court op-ed

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) Is facing blowback for his latest op-ed criticizing the possibility of Democrats adding U.S. Supreme Court Justice seats. The lawmaker left one glaring detail out of his rant.

In his op-ed published by The Washington Post on Thursday, November 11, McConnell condemned the idea of Democratic lawmakers adding additional justice seats to ultimately tilt the majority in their favor. Leaning on the ideology of "judicial independence," McConnell framed his argument as if Democrats would be tampering with the U.S. Constitution by taking such an unprecedented step.

"Judicial independence is as fragile as it is important. The Framers of our Constitution took great pains to protect it," McConnell wrote, as he demanded that Democratic lawmakers "leave the Supreme Court alone."

"Every single American deserves every possible guarantee that they will receive impartial justice," he added. "It would be beyond reckless for Democrats to smash this centuries-old safeguard in a fit of partisan pique."

McConnell went on to offer his take on the role and responsibilities of the Senate and Supreme Court justices.

"We Senate exists to defeat shortsighted proposals and protect our institutions from structural vandalism. That is our job,” McConnell also wrote. “The American people need their judges to do theirs: follow the law wherever it may lead, independent and unafraid.'

McConnell also expressed concern about the possible of Democrats doing away with life tenure for U.S. Supreme Court justices.

"Even as the political left tries to spin the cancellation of life tenure as a half-step back from an even crazier opening bid, term limits would still be institutional vandalism," McConnell wrote in the Post. "If a Republican administration came anywhere near flirting with such a proposal, the outrage from liberals would have been deafening."

But despite McConnell's rant, HuffPost reporter Nick Visser points out the fact that the Kentucky lawmaker contradicted himself because he is guilty of the same politically ambitious goal he is accusing Democrats of even considering.

"The Senate minority leader failed to mention his years-long campaign to strong-arm the nation's judiciary to the right," Visser wrote.

He also recalled the most recent situation where McConnell and Senate Republicans moved forward with their own agenda despite outrage from the opposing party. Last year, they expedited adding Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the bench and did so in record time.

"There was, in fact, outrage last year during Barrett's confirmation, but McConnell didn't heed it," Visser wrote.

He also explained why McConnell's current argument is relatively frivolous.

"Regardless of what the panel recommends, any change to the Supreme Court faces an improbable battle," Visser added. "Democrats hold the slimmest of majorities in the Senate, with several caucus members vocally saying they wouldn't vote to expand the court or abolish the Senate filibuster rules."

Mitch McConnell's hijacking of the Supreme Court is already backfiring

On second thought, maybe it wasn't the best idea to overturn a 50-year-old Supreme Court precedent on abortion in the dead of night via an unsigned opinion.

After a fourth poll in the span of a couple weeks found the Supreme Court's job approval plummeting, it's becoming crystal clear that the nation's high court is suffering from a supreme loss of confidence among the American people. Gallup, which has been tracking the court's approval rating since 2000, found public approval of the Supreme Court took a precipitous tumble from 58% approval in 2020 to a 20-year low of 40% now.

The decision by the court's conservative majority to let a Texas abortion ban abruptly go into effect earlier this month resulted in chaos in the nation's second-largest state along with neighboring states as they absorb an influx of women seeking abortion care. But it also appears to have marked an inflection point for a court that now carries the stench of Sen. Mitch McConnell's politicization.

And everyone knows it. Over the last several weeks, three justices have pleaded their case publicly that the court isn't packed with a bunch of conservative political hacks but rather a group of people following their judicial philosophies. Conservative justices Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett along with liberal justice Stephen Breyer have all given that ridiculous defense of a court that was highjacked by McConnell and his Senate Republicans after they stole two seats in a row that should have been appointed by Democratic presidents.

The court's partisan leanings were on full display in August and September as the justices torpedoed President's Joe Biden's pandemic-related eviction moratorium, forced the reinstatement of the Trump-era "remain in Mexico" policy for asylum seekers, and took a hatchet to Roe v. Wade.

"Whatever people might have seen as moderation on the court over the past year was followed by these three rulings, right in a row and close together, that all took a conservative tilt," said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School poll, told The Washington Post. The Marquette survey also found the court's approval rating plunging in recent polling.

As Irv Gornstein, executive director of the Georgetown Supreme Court Institute, told the Post, "It is all well and good for justices to tell the public that their decisions reflect their judicial philosophies, not their political affiliations ... If the right side's judicial philosophies always produce results favored by Republicans and the left side's judicial philosophies always produce results favored by Democrats, there is little chance of persuading the public there is a difference between the two."

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut agreed.

"I think these last few years have really been very dangerous and potentially devastating to the Supreme Court's credibility because the public is seeing the court as increasingly political, and the public is right," said Blumenthal, who served as a Supreme Court clerk to Justice Harry A. Blackmun. "The statements by Thomas, Barrett, Breyer, you know, give me a break ... they are just inherently noncredible."

'Will this institution survive the stench...?': Justice Sotomayor calls out her colleagues' right-wing agenda

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and examining the constitutionality of Mississippi’s highly restrictive abortion law. Abortion rights defenders fear that the case will result in Roe v. Wade being overturned. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, speaking on Wednesday, was highly critical of the Mississippi law’s supporters — expressing concerns that the Supreme Court will be viewed as overly politicized.

Justices appointed by Republican presidents now have a 6-3 majority on the High Court, and Sotomayor is among the three justices appointed by Democratic presidents. The Court moved even more to the right in 2020 when liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and was replaced by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a Donald Trump appointee. The two other right-wing justices Trump appointed during his presidency are Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Sotomayor, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009, pointed to the fact that the new case is driven by political expediency and as the culmination of a carefully crafted agenda, rather than being the result of a particularly pertinent legal question or a new set of circumstances.

“Now, the sponsors of this bill, the House bill, in Mississippi said: We’re doing it because we have new justices," she explained. "The newest ban that Mississippi has put in place, the six-week ban, the Senate sponsor said: 'We’re doing it because we have new justices on the Supreme Court.' Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts? I don’t see how it is possible.”

Sotomayor added that certain “watershed decisions” by the U.S. Supreme Court, including Brown v. the Board of Education, “have such an entrenched set of expectations in our society.”

“We won’t be able to survive if people believe that everything, including New York v. Sullivan — I could name any other set of rights, including the 2nd Amendment, by the way,” Sotomayor told her colleagues. “There are many political people who believe the Court erred in seeing this as a personal right. If people actually believe that it’s all political, how will we survive? How will the Court survive?”

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