Amy Coney Barrett’s record may present a threat to American LGBTQ+ rights


Jiayu Zhan

Many Americans fear that Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s record may harm the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans.

Aditi Praveen

Update: This article was written prior to Judge Barrett’s confirmation to the United States Supreme Court. On Oct. 26, Judge Barrett was sworn in by Justice Clarence Thomas in a White House ceremony after the US Senate voted 52-48 to confirm her appointment.

In the news of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Donald Trump’s new Supreme Court nominee, has caught the national spotlight, particularly for her conservative opinions and record throughout the course of her career. If confirmed as a justice, she will establish a 6–3 conservative majority in the Supreme Court, leaving many to wonder if she poses a threat to the rights of progressive legislation and minority groups in America, particularly the LGBTQ+ community.

Barrett first caught political attention in 2017 when Trump nominated her to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. However, before her nomination, she worked as a Constitutional Law and Federal Courts professor at Notre Dame University, as well as a law clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia.

Barrett’s qualifications, however, haven’t precluded her from criticism from liberal politicians and citizens across America; many have scrutinized the past statements she’s made, especially in regard to LGBTQ+ rights. One of Barrett’s most controversial statements occurred during a lecture she gave at Jacksonville University, in which she defended the dissenters in the Obergefell vs. Hodges landmark Supreme Court ruling that established marriage equality in the United States, as well as her deliberate misgendering of transgender women when asked about bathroom rights.

“People will feel passionately on either side about whether physiological males who identify as females should be permitted in bathrooms, especially where there are young girls present,” Barrett stated. Such comments have led many to believe that if confirmed to the Supreme Court, Barrett’s comments on LGBTQ+ rights might hint towards the threat they might face under her jurisdiction.

Ian Milhiser states in his article about Barrett posing threats to landmark LGBTQ+ rights. “Barrett personally opposes marriage equality — and potentially opposes extending other rights to LGBTQ+ people.” Restrictions on LGBTQ+ rights could lead to adoption agencies discriminating against LGBTQ+ couples and gutted access to healthcare for these communities, amongst many other possibilities.

This prompts many to question if the Supreme Court is representing the opinions of the American population.

— Aditi Praveen

However, many are quick to point out Barrett’s statements from her 2017 confirmation hearing where she stated that she does “not think it lawful for a judge to impose personal opinions, from whatever source they derive, upon the law. If confirmed, I will apply the law faithfully and impartially in accordance with the judicial oath.” Barrett, a devout Catholic, has claimed that she will not let her religion nor her personal opinions interfere with her decisions as a judge. “If confirmed, I would not assume that role for the sake of those in my own circle and certainly not for my own sake,” Barrett said at last month’s White House ceremony. “I would assume this role to serve [the American people].”

However, many point out Barrett’s confirmation hearing to Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, that led to Senator Diane Feinstein’s (D-CA) infamous statement towards then-professor Barrett, telling her that “the dogma lives loudly within you.” Furthermore, the statements that many analysts and journalists make is that, even if Barrett promises not to let her personal beliefs interfere with her work, that might not be true.

If Barrett’s nomination does follow through and eventually leads to the repeal of many LGBTQ+ rights cases, they might not reflect what American citizens believe the government should be doing. In June of 2020, a Gallup poll was released which states that 67% of Americans believe that same-sex marriages should be legally valid. This prompts many to question if the Supreme Court is representing the opinions of the American population and if President Trump should be picking a Supreme Court nominee that doesn’t reflect America’s perspective

However, Barrett’s eventual position will be decided once the Senate votes on her confirmation after her hearings take place, when she will undoubtedly be asked her perspective on LGBTQ+ rights in America. Barrett’s hearings are slated to begin Monday, Oct. 12, and continue through Thursday, Oct. 15, before the Senate Judiciary Committee.