Amy Coney Barrett: Who is She? | Sarah Stook

The most important person in the United States at the moment isn’t Donald Trump, nor is it Joe Biden- it’s Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

The person chosen to replace the recently departed Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Barrett has found herself in one of the most contentious judicial confirmations in recent years. This controversy stems from the fact that, as of the time of writing, it is less than one month before the 2020 Presidential Election. Yeah, it’s a close one.

Depending on who you ask, Amy Coney Barrett is either a) an amazing conservative judge or b) a regressive woman who hates her own gender. There’s no in between. Our readers should know who she truly is.

A brief background.

Amy Coney Barrett (born Amy Vivian Coney) is the eldest child of seven children in a devoutly Catholic family, born on the 28th January 1972 in Louisiana. She achieved her BA in English Literature with a minor in French from Rhodes College, Tennessee. Barrett then attended the prestigious Notre Dame Law School in Indiana, where she graduated first in her class with her juris doctor (JD) in 1997.

Barrett then became a legal clerk, serving Justice Antonin Scalia for a short time. She then worked in a DC law firm, during which she worked in favour of George W. Bush during the 2000 Bush v Gore decision. Following this, Barrett began a career as a professor in a number of universities.

In 2017, Barrett was nominated to the Seventh Circuit and was voted in after a tense case against the Senate Judicial Committee. In her role, she took positions on issues including the rights of felons to hold firearms (she believes nonviolent felons should) and immigration (ruling that increasing the standards needed to get a green card was correct). Barrett received strong opposition from Democrats in her nomination process regarding her deep Catholic faith, particularly regarding abortion and the death penalty. This made her a person of interest to the conservative movement.

Personal Life.

Barrett married her husband, Jessie Barrett in 1999, who also attended Notre Dame law school. Their seven children include a son and a daughter adopted from Haiti. The family is practising Catholic.

One point of controversy surrounding Barrett is her membership of the Christian community People of Praise, a group of just under two thousand people. It is a culturally conservative group in which men are seen as the head of the family and gender roles are generally encouraged. Women do not have leadership roles as a rule, but are advisors to others in family and faith matters. Whilst men are expected to do the labouring and women the home work, it’s not absolute. Women are also encouraged into work and education, though not leadership within the community. 

Whilst this is controversial, it’s worth nothing pretty much every major religion is patriarchal. The Catholic Church does not allow female priests and no women hold leadership in Islam. Orthodox Judaism is incredibly patriarchal. 


Barrett is an originalist judge, which means she believes the Constitution should be taken as it was written at the time. She is also a textualist in that she does not agree with using outside sources and views on Constitutional law. Barrett opposes the Affordable Care Act ‘Obamacare’ and is staunchly pro-life. In her confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court, Barrett has assured her personal feelings will never cloud her judgement in cases, as she believes that should be separated.


The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed only 46 days before the election and Barrett was nominated only 38 days prior to Election Day. The only judicial death closer was Roger B. Taney, 15 days before the 1864 election. There is no precedent or strict timing for a nomination process.

The Republicans hold the Senate with 53 seats. Two Republicans— Alaskan Lisa Mursokowski and Maine’s Susan Collins, both moderates, have said they will not vote for Barrett due to the closeness to the election. Assuming everyone will vote on party lines, it’ll be 51-49 in favour of Barrett. The Vice President acts as The Presiding Officer of the United States Senate under the constitution and can only vote during a tie. If this happens, it is certain Mike Pence will vote in favour of Barrett.

Will she be confirmed?

It looks like it, but 2020 has been one crazy year, so you never know.

What does it mean for the SCOTUS?

If Barrett is confirmed, the court will have a conservative majority of 6-3. The eldest Justice, Stephen Breyer is 82 and also a member of the liberal wing. Justices can spend decades upon decades on the court and usually serve until they die. This means Barrett could keep the court conservative for a very long time. Considering that Supreme Court cases are legally binding, this could shape American politics for years to come.

Photo Credit.

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