IMMEDIATE RELEASE 15 October 2020WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUNDToday’s Events in Historical PerspectiveAmerica’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932A she-wolf in sheep’s clothingBy Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift WASHINGTON – She never lost her poise and made no errors or revealed how she might rule on reproductive rights, the Affordable Care Act, or the proliferation of gun violence. Amy Coney Barrett did not have to tell us where she stands on those issues. We already know. Her history told us so. She stands with President Trump. Asked if she had made any commitments to the president who is appointing her, she said she had not. She did not have to. Her writings, her rulings, and her advocacy assured the president and the Federalist Society, the conservative group that supports her, all they needed to know. When Trump ran for president in 2016, he relied on the Federalist Society to provide him with a list of potential judges whose conservative credentials would convince white evangelical Christians to support a thrice-married man with a history of marital infidelity. Trump believes with good reason that the list he offered up then made it possible for him to win the election. Barrett at the time was a constitutional law professor at Notre Dame, and in 2017, Trump nominated her to a seat on the Seventh Circuit. In 2019, when Trump nominated Bret Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Barrett was the runner-up. Trump commented privately at the time that he was “saving” Barrett for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat. What does that mean? Aside from replacing one woman with another woman, it means from Trump’s point of view, a chance to repudiate groundbreaking rulings issued by a Court with Ginsburg in the majority. And those rulings are the ACA, challenges to Roe v Wade, and going forward, gun rights versus gun safety. Barrett could not have come across any more pleasant and calm than she did in those countless hours of the hearings. But do not be fooled, her evenhandedness does not extend to her rulings, as she would have us believe. She is an originalist in the mold of her mentor, Justice Scalia, for whom she clerked. Originalists apply the rule of law exactly as the founders would have, although the world has changed many times over since the Constitution was written, and more than two dozen amendments have been passed to try to correct its shortcomings. How does an originalist approach the challenge of gun violence? Would Barrett begin by asking herself how many mass killings there were in 1787? None. Why? There were no automatic weapons. And originalists take note: there also were no cars, airplanes, trains, electricity, phones, computers, the Internet, televisions, radios, refrigerators, skyscrapers, advanced medical technology, nuclear weapons, or even The Pill – among others. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act and its constitutionality on November 10. Barrett is being rushed through to participate. She criticized Chief Justice John Roberts when he upheld the ACA, saying he “pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.” The current threat to the ACA has to do with “severability,” that if the law’s individual mandate to buy health insurance has been struck down by Congress, can the rest of the law stand? The Democrats went to great lengths during the Judiciary Committee hearing to emphasize the grave threat to people in this country in the middle of a pandemic if the 10-year-old ACA is ruled unconstitutional. Would she do that? Would this mother of seven put her originalist ideology above the health care of her country’s families? Finally, Roe v. Wade, the ruling that made abortion legal is now almost 50 years old, a precedent that some regard as a “super precedent,” meaning it is beyond being overturned. Barrett rejected that description, and we know where she stands because she has told us: life begins at conception. We know more about her views on abortion than any other conservative nominee who has come before the Court. So, do not be surprised, be forewarned, Barrett is the kind of judge conservative activists have sought for years, and they – although in the minority – will now have a 6-3 majority on the Court. Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency. Twitter: @douglas_cohn © 2020 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc. Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
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