On May 8, 2017, President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals for the seat held by Judge John Tinder. Judge Tinder took senior status from the court on February 18, 2015. On October 31, 2017, Barrett was confirmed by a 55-43 vote in the Senate.
Since that time, Trump has added Barrett to his short list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court. Trump has again and again reminded us that he will only put justices on the Supreme Court who pass his litmus test of overturning or gutting Roe v. Wade. Trump said overturning Roe “will happen automatically . . . because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.” President Trump has also explicitly stated he was looking for judicial nominees who are hostile to the Affordable Care Act.
Trump said, “my judicial appointments will do the right thing unlike Bush’s appointee John Roberts on ObamaCare.”
Following the retirement announcement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, Trump reportedly interviewed Barrett, among several other short-list candidates, for the seat. Alliance for Justice has updated this report accordingly.
Barrett’s record before her confirmation to the Seventh Circuit is extremely troubling. Barrett has said that judges should not be bound by stare decisis, the doctrine that requires judges to follow well-settled law.
Furthermore, Barrett’s academic work has been tailored to dismantle Roe v. Wade. Indeed, her belief that a judge can refuse to neutrally apply well-settled law seems to be born of her staunch opposition to a woman’s right to abortion care.
It is notable that prior to Barrett’s nomination to the Seventh Circuit, President Obama nominated Myra Selby to fill the same seat. Selby is a former Indiana Supreme Court Justice who spent most of her career at the law firm Ice Miller in Indianapolis. Prior to her nomination, Selby was a highly regarded expert in health care law, earning a spot on the Best Lawyers in America, Health law list for seven consecutive years.
Senator Joe Donnelly praised Selby’s nomination, saying that she would be a “strong addition to the Seventh Circuit bench” and that she “has been a trailblazer, as the first woman and first African-American to serve on the Indiana Supreme Court and the first African- American partner in a major Indianapolis law firm.” However, Republican Senator Daniel Coats did not return his blue slip, and Selby did not even receive a hearing. Selby would have been the first African American on the Seventh Circuit from Indiana, had the Senate acted on her nomination.
Meanwhile, since her confirmation to the Seventh Circuit, Barrett has already joined a number of troubling decisions. Barrett sided against an African- American worker whose employer, according to the Chief Judge of the Seventh Circuit, appeared to have established a “separate-but-equal” policy of segregating their employees by race. Barrett joined a ruling siding against the Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to protect wetlands in Illinois under the Clean Water Act. Like other Trump nominees, she has shown an inclination to rule in favor of the rights of the wealthy and powerful over the rights of all; in other cases, Barrett ruled to dismiss claims by workers who were denied access to justice and ruled to uphold a denial of benefits.
Alliance for Justice strongly opposes the consideration of Barrett for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.