Trump nominates conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court

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Donald Trump nominated on Saturday Amy Coney Barrett for the US Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Barrett is a federal appeals court judge known for her conservative legal positions on key issues.

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Barrett, 48, was appointed by Trump to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017. She has proven reliably conservative in that post, voting in favor of one of Trump's hardline immigration policies and showing support for expansive gun rights. She also authored a ruling making it easier for college students accused of campus sexual assaults to sue their institutions.

Abortion rights groups have expressed concern that Barrett would vote as a justice to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalised abortion nationwide.

Although she has not yet ruled directly on abortion, Barrett twice signaled opposition to rulings that struck down Republican-backed Indiana abortion-related restrictions – one in 2018 requiring fetal remains to be buried or cremated after an abortion, the other in 2019 involving parental notification – voting to have those decisions reconsidered.

Religious dogma

In February 2019, Barrett joined a ruling that upheld a Chicago measure that places limits on anti-abortion activists gathered outside abortion clinics. The ruling, written by Judge Diane Sykes, said the court had to apply Supreme Court precedent.

During her 2017 confirmation hearing for her current post, US Senator Dianne Feinstein told Barrett, "The dogma lives loudly within you". Barrett said her religious faith would not affect her decisions as a judge.

In June, Barrett dissented when a three-judge panel ruled in favor of a challenge to Trump's policy to deny legal permanent residency to certain immigrants deemed likely to require government assistance in the future. In January, the Supreme Court, powered by its conservative majority, allowed the policy to take effect.

Judge Amy Coney Barretts ideological approach to the law could not be more different than Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburgs. Barrett draws inspiration from Justice Antonin Scalia as well as conservative beliefs and a religious culture thatve shaped her life.

— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 26, 2020

She also authored a ruling that makes it easier for college students who have been accused of sexual assault to challenge how their schools dealt with their cases. Barrett and her colleagues revived a lawsuit by a male student who had been suspended from Purdue University after sexual assault allegations. He accused the school of discriminating against him on the basis of his gender.

She wrote that in the case it was plausible Purdue officials chose to believe the female accuser "because she is a woman" and to disbelieve the male student accused "because he is a man."

Barrett indicated support for gun rights in a 2019 dissent when she objected to the court ruling that a nonviolent felon could be permanently prohibited from possessing a firearm.

"Founding-era legislatures did not strip felons of the right to bear arms simply because of their status as felons," Barrett wrote.

Conservative record

Barrett, born in New Orleans, received her law degree from Notre Dame Law School, a Catholic institution in Indiana. She is a devout Catholic. She is married to Jesse Barrett, a lawyer in private practice and a former federal prosecutor in Indiana. They have seven children, two of whom were adopted from Haiti.

She previously served as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a stalwart conservative who died in 2016.

In a 1998 law journal article she and another author said that Catholic judges who are faithful to their church's teachings are morally precluded from enforcing the death penalty and should recuse themselves in certain cases.

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