Among the four U.S. Supreme Court candidates interviewed at the White House, a former law clerk to Antonin Scalia known as a devout, pro-life Catholic appears to be drawing the most fire from Democrats, who clearly are worried about a generational shift of the court to the right in the wake of Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.
An MSNBC analyst is among many who have tried to paint U.S. Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett as an extremist, charging in an appearance on “Hardball” that she is associated with a “hate group.”
However, political analyst Zerlina Maxwell was basing her characterization of the non-profit legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom on a designation by the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center, which affixes its hate label on groups that support traditional marriage.
Maxwell, calling Barrett “very Catholic,” said Monday the departure of Kennedy, the swing vote in many landmark cases between the court’s evenly divided right and left, puts “voting rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, affirmative action” and other issues on the line.
She said Democrats should make every effort to prevent Republicans from confirming “a very extreme or conservative person” such as Barrett.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., already has voiced his opposition to Barrett, who was famously derided for her Catholic faith by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., during a 2017 confirmation hearing for her nomination to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Schumer pointed to Barrett’s pro-life views and her disagreement with the court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act.
“The bottom line: Judge Barrett has given every indication that she will be an activist judge on the Court,” Schumer wrote. “If chosen as the nominee, she will be the deciding vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and to strike down pre-existing conditions protections in the ACA.”
In a contentious hearing for her nomination to the 7th Circuit Court eight months ago, Feinstein, D-Calif., told Barrett “the dogma lives loudly within you,” contending her writings indicated her religious beliefs would prevail over the law.
Barrett and her husband are the parents of seven children and belong to a charismatic Catholic group called People of Praise. The Catholic League challenged critics who describe the group as a cult, pointing out that, among other things, it “operates interracial schools and camps, and provides for many family outings; members often travel together.”
“Is it a Catholic fringe group? No, for if it were, Pope Francis would not have welcomed it in June: he celebrated with them, and others, the 50th anniversary of the Catholic charismatic renewal; the event drew over 30,000 people from 128 countries.”
‘Fight of our lives’
On Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., dispatched a video via Twitter in which she declared Democrats are in “the fight of our lives.”
“Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement means that women’s health, equal marriage, and civil rights are all at risk. This is the fight of our lives. If you want to be in this fight, now is the time — join us.”
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement means that women’s health, equal marriage, and civil rights are all at risk. This is the fight of our lives. If you want to be in this fight, now is the time— join us.
— Elizabeth Warren (@elizabethforma) July 3, 2018
The other judges the president is reported to have interviewed Monday were Brett Kavanaugh, 53, of the District of Columbia Circuit and 6th Circuit judges Raymond Kethledge, 51, and Amul Thapar, 49.
National Review columnist David French came to Barrett’s defense Tuesday, tweeting that Barrett’s “religious life is similar to lives lived by millions of American Christians.”
“Any religious test imposed against her would betray the Constitution and break trust with America’s Christian citizens,” he wrote.
Andrew Stoltmann, a Chicago-based attorney and an adjunct securities law professor at Northwestern University’s School of Law in Chicago, argued in a FoxNews.com column that while Barrett’s nomination “would likely cause the most vicious confirmation hearing since that for Justice Clarence Thomas, it would be well worth it for conservative members of Congress who provide President Trump his legislative base.”
Barrett’s “conservative credentials are impeccable, he wrote, and she was already confirmed by the Senate by a 55-43 vote for her seat on the 7th Circuit, securing the votes of moderate Democrats such as Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
With a slim 51-49 margin in the Senate and the absence of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is battling brain cancer, Trump may need the help of Democratic senators in states he won in 2016.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that a “candidate for this important position who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me, because that would indicate an activist agenda that I don’t want to see a judge have.”
And Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has been a supporter of abortion rights.