The Rightward Tilt | Opinion | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » Opinion

The Rightward Tilt

Taking a Gander: Religious views matter in Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation.

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Americans should be scared and screaming bloody murder. Trump's SCOTUS justice nomination threatens more than 100 years of progress in women's rights, national health care and the protections of the LBGTQ community.

President Trump, in his ongoing effort to make both the legislative and judicial branches his loyal minions, has been rushing to create a self-serving and virtually permanent imbalance in the Supreme Court—one that appeals to his "conservative" base and marginalizes the rights of all others—particularly women and LBGTQ. That's not how the high court was intended to function; it is supposed to be the ultimate power in interpreting and enforcing the precepts of our Constitution—not a misogynistic Republican body of Trump-aligned hatchet-wielders seeking to destroy established law.

With his disappointing poll numbers in advance of the presidential election, POTUS couldn't even wait for Ruth Bader Ginsburg's temperature to drop 5 degrees before crapping on her dying wish to have the next president replace her. (He even accused the Democrats of fabricating that story, though it came straight from the lips of her granddaughter, Clara Spera.) Within minutes of Justice Ginsburg's death, Trump made his decision to appoint a new Supreme Court justice, despite the fact that his own party—in a classic obstructive measure—had successfully blocked President Obama's SCOTUS pick nine months before the 2016 election. Anyone with even an iota of fairness understands that Republicans should be held to honoring the appointment precedent they set in 2016, making it crystal-clear that no justice should be appointed in an election year.

But Trump's proposed SCOTUS appointment is no surprise. (Could anyone have believed that the duplicitous Republican leadership would actually honor its words?) Everyone knows that Trump wants to appoint a conservative justice to help him to destroy the Affordable Care Act and bring down the monumental decision of Roe Vs. Wade.

Delving into a justice's religious beliefs is something most senators shy away from, but it's important to note Amy Coney Barrett isn't just another super-conservative appointee. As a former law professor at Notre Dame, she's a devout Catholic (there are already several Catholics on the court). But she's also said to be a member of People of Praise, a Christian group with Pentecostal practices such as speaking in tongues. Participants revere husbands as the head of the household, and wives swear allegiance to their husbands. Should Barrett be confirmed on the high court, her loyalties would be, not necessarily to the American people, but to the sacred oaths she has sworn to live by.

Democrats and liberals should be concerned. This is not the time to entrust the future of Americans to someone who has included her name on a newspaper ad declaring her support of overturning Roe v. Wade. That's her "commitment" to the women of our country. Such outspoken beliefs may be too extreme even for many Republicans. And while a religion test may be off limits, we still need to know how religion shapes Barrett's legal views.

There's no question that Barrett presents herself well and that her stint as a constitutional law professor has made her particularly well-versed in our most essential national document. But her academic achievement and the lack of chinks in her armor are not the only standards for judging Barrett's suitability to the court. I frankly wouldn't mind if she did have a youthful indiscretion while putting herself though law school. There's no place on the Supreme Court for a robotic devotee who only follows a religious credo. A justice needs to be a caring, conscientious human being, capable of a broad empathy for the wide diversity of our population.

Republican senators seem to consider Trump's nomination a guaranteed confirmation, but many sane senators on both sides of the aisle remain objective. The replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg should be a thinking, compassionate advocate for Americans. With Barrett's religious affiliation and extreme conservative viewpoints, her script may be one that conflicts with women's rights, gay rights or the access of all Americans to affordable, comprehensive healthcare.

If those rights and such hard-won legal victories matter to you, call your senators today and ask them not to confirm Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court.

The author is a novelist, columnist and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.