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Opinion: New Judge’s Lack of Answers Prompts Concerns

By Emma Hedrick

No matter what your political viewpoints are, there is one thing that all Americans can agree upon: Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court is a big deal. 

Let’s talk about the Supreme Court for a moment. Article III of the Constitution creates the Supreme Court and grants it jurisdiction over certain types of cases, such as suits between multiple states, cases involving ambassadors and other public officials and cases that have been appealed and involve the Constitution or federal law. 

The Supreme Court currently has nine judges, and with the appointment of Judge Barrett, the Republican majority increases to a 6-3 ratio, creating the most conservative Supreme Court the United States has had in 70 years, according to the Washington Post. Following her swearing in ceremony on October 27, 2020, Judge Barrett began her tenure as the 115th justice on the Supreme Court. As she said during the confirmation hearings, she is a self-described “originalist,” meaning that she interprets the Constitution at the time it was adopted, not allowing for current concepts to be considered.

Throughout her confirmation hearings, Judge Barrett repeatedly would not answer questions saying that she “[couldn’t] offer an opinion” on any legal issues that might come up during her time in the Supreme Court. Her non-answers to questions regarding her views on the Affordable Care Act or the Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade, which protects women’s abortion rights, and election conditions brings out many concerns. 

For a legal expert who has been appointed to the highest court in the country, not answering simple questions at a confirmation hearing where her only job is to answer questions is unsettling. Her position is for life. Judge Barrett is 48 years old, meaning that her appointment to the Supreme Court and the decisions that she makes while there will affect the American people for many years to come. 

With the conservative majority, many have questioned the chance of overruling of cases including Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same sex marriage, and Roe. V. Wade. This recent appointment has members of the LGBTQ+ community and many women anxious. In order for the Supreme Court to overrule cases like these, a lawsuit would have to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court from the lower courts. It’s hard to tell what the likelihood of high profile cases like these being overturned are. Unfortunately, it is always a possibility. 

The future is unclear for Snider students. No matter what, everyone would be affected by the potential rulings of the Supreme Court. For the LGBTQ+ community and women at Snider, the indecisiveness of Judge Barrett and the possibilities for Supreme Court decisions over the next few decades does not ease any worries. For now, all we can do is hope that our rights are protected, equality is maintained, and justice is served.

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