Why the ad hominem attacks against Amy Coney Barrett don’t preserve RBG’s legacy


Alex Hanks

Graphic by Alex Hanks

Bella Nieto, Assistant News Editor

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ushered in movements of grief and outrage, both because of the loss of an icon for feminism and the Trump administration’s politicization of Ginsburg’s passing. President Trump was quick to move on nominating the potential new justice, Amy Coney Barret, attorney, jurist and professor. Her confirmation hearings, which began last week, reflected the tension and polarization of the country, with Democrats expressing hostility and Republicans celebrating and uplifting the potential new justice. Understandably, the hypocritical appointing of a Supreme Court Justice before Election Day seems like an act of political and moral malfeasance, but the attacks against Amy Coney Barrett from Senate Democrats, angered at Trump’s haste and indifference, do little to preserve Justice Ginsburg’s legacy by undermining her efforts toward the advancement of all women.

The Senate confirmation hearing, which sounds inherently pallid, was lively, with grilling questions on Barrett’s thoughts about the ruling of Roe v. Wade, election integrity and the possible overturning of the Affordable Care Act. Rather than a true test of skill and experience, the hearing was politicized by both Republicans and Democrats. Republicans, through their questioning, highlighted Barrett’s role as a mother, her work under Justice Scalia and her personal story, attempting to pursue independents and the demographics of the GOP that are being lost. Democrats, on the other hand, pressed the future of popular issues, such as healthcare, abortion rights and same-sex marriage. It was clear that Barrett was evading a considerable amount of questions, especially ones that alluded to how she would rule in future decisions and if she would recuse herself from cases that questioned Trump’s defeat in the upcoming election. When it comes to the future, Barrett is stumped and out of answers.

In the current political climate, it is impossible to ignore how religion, sexual orientation, race and gender could influence decision making, yet we cannot be hypocritical when attacking opposition. To attack Barrett based on religion would be tantamount to House Representative Ilhan Omar facing harsh and Islamophobic criticism. Any criticism of her passion would be equal to the vulgar criticism of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez by fellow Rep. Ted Yoho. We do not have to welcome Barret with open arms, but we cannot impose double standards that make it impossible to please both sides of the political aisle.

Disagreement is normal, and in some instances, compromise isn’t enough, but by rejecting objectivity to communicate animosity or to make a malicious political statement would be counterintuitive to the progression of the nation. It is no secret that Barrett does not have the same reputation and broad-based support as Justice Ginsburg did, but she reflects what the now deceased justice worked for — to see women in places where decisions are being made.