United States: who is Amy Coney Barrett and what changes her entry to the Supreme Court?

What will the United States of tomorrow look like? With a Supreme Court firmly anchored to the right since Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation, American society could take on a whole different face. The magistrate was appointed for life on Monday to the highest court in the country, where she will occupy the seat left vacant by the death of progressive and feminist icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Aged 48, Amy Coney Barrett will therefore have plenty of time to defend her conservative opinions at the High Court, responsible for deciding major social issues. At his side sit five other Republican magistrates, against only three Democrats. “A real tour de force,” said Simon Grivet, lecturer at the University of Lille, specialist in the history of law and justice in the United States.

Raised in a Christian community

Born in 1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Amy Coney Barrett is the oldest in a family of seven children. Her father, Mike, was a lawyer and Linda, her mother, a French teacher, then a housewife.

A brilliant student, raised in a charismatic Christian community, the People of Praise, she studied British literature at the faculty of Rhodes (Tennessee), before immersing herself in law at the University of Notre-Dame-du-Lac (Indiana ), from which she graduated in 1997. In this Catholic establishment, crucifixes adorn the walls of classrooms and some teachers begin their lessons with a prayer, reports the New York Times.

The Notre-Dame-du-Lac school suited this devout Catholic well. Then 30-year-old Amy Coney Barrett returned for fifteen years, this time as a teacher, and has even been repeatedly elected professor of the year.

Partisan of originalism

Married to a lawyer she had met while studying law, Jesse Barrett, she is the mother of seven children, all of whom are under 20. Two of them were adopted and are from Haiti. The couple’s last child has Down’s syndrome.

Amy Coney Barrett has worked with the Supreme Court from the start of her career: she was legal assistant to the very conservative Antonin Scalia, a judge who died in 2016. Like him, she is a supporter of the originalist theory, a reactionary vision which stipulates that the Constitution American must be interpreted according to the meaning it had when it was ratified in 1787.

Clearly opposed to the voluntary termination of pregnancy – in 2006, she signed a petition against “abortion on demand” – described as a defender of the Second Amendment, which is devoted to the carrying of weapons, the magistrate was appointed federal judge in October 2017, directly by Donald Trump. A year later, she was already on the favorites list for a post on the Supreme Court. “I keep it for Ginsburg,” declared the Republican head of state at the time.

“A breaking point”

With the express appointment of Amy Coney Barrett, the president-candidate records a huge victory. “It’s a breaking point. In a single term, Trump managed to appoint three judges. Unheard of for the past forty years, ”observes Simon Grivet. “He does what he promised in 2016. He told all the great Republican leaders who were reluctant to support him openly: if you vote for me i will nominate the judges you want. He even published a list of magistrates he wanted to appoint to the Supreme Court, ”recalls the historian.

Amy Coney Barrett has vowed to keep her personal beliefs out of her job as a judge. The opposite “would be a dereliction of duty,” she said. But the magistrate knows how to use the language of wood. Asked about the issue of abortion during her hearing before the Senate, she shirked: “Whether I say that I love him or hate him, that will send a signal”, before kicking the same button. way on the subject of guns or same-sex marriage legislation.

VIDEO. Trump appoints Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court

Its confirmation to the Supreme Court will “probably lead to quite profound changes on a bunch of themes”, believes Simon Grivet. The highest court in the country, “a sort of Constitutional Council, Court of Cassation and Council of State together”, in fact arbitrates more and more issues of society. “The polarization is accentuated in the United States, the Republicans and the Democrats do not agree on anything and bring more cases before the Supreme Court”, explains the specialist in the history of law and American justice.

A first test on Obamacare on November 10

With a clear majority of conservatives on the Supreme Court, Democrats fear that former President Obama’s iconic law, which extended health coverage to millions of Americans, will be struck down. On November 10, the court is due to hear an appeal from the Republicans, arguing that Obamacare is unconstitutional.

If the High Court goes in their direction, “some 27 million Americans could lose their health coverage, bringing the number of uninsured individuals to 51 million by 2026”, affirms the researcher in public health and political science, Sarah Rozenblum, in L e World. And this in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

What also worries the Democrats, a few days before the presidential election, is that the Supreme Court could very well be called upon to rule on possible appeals against the results of the vote on November 3. In 2000, its nine judges decided on the green carpet between candidates Al Gore and George Bush Jr.

Monday, at the White House, Amy Barrett assured that she would be perfectly impartial. “It is the judge’s duty to resist his political preferences,” she assured… in the full splendor of the triumphal ceremony organized by Trump.

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