Locals react to Metairie native Amy Coney Barrett being considered for U.S. Supreme Court; discuss originalist views

Louisiana woman makes short list for SCOTUS nominees

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Some locals are thrilled that a Louisiana native is said to be at the top of President Donald Trump’s list for a successor to the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg died Friday at the age of 87 after battling pancreatic cancer.

Pro-life advocates like Angie Thomas, Associate Director of Louisiana Right-to-Life, would welcome Federal Appeals Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett being named to the nation’s highest court. Barrett is 48-years-old and could conceivably serve decades on the Supreme Court.

“We are so excited, certainly highly respect Judge Barrett, I think mostly because of her balance as a mother and in her career. She has seven children, two of whom are adopted,” said Thomas of Barrett.

Barrett grew up in Metairie, a suburb just outside of New Orleans, where she attended St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church. Her father Mike is a deacon at the church. Barrett graduated from St. Mary’s Dominican High School in the city of New Orleans.

It is not the first time Barrett’s been mentioned as being under consideration by Trump for a seat on the Supreme Court. The last time was in 2018 when she was considered to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Sharon Rodi, a Dominican High alumna, expressed excitement when Barrett was under consideration by Trump two years ago.

“We are very proud as Dominican alums as to what she’s accomplished, we hope and pray that she will be nominated, and confirmed and will do a good job,” said Rodi.

Barrett, a devout Catholic, attended Rhodes College in Tennessee and then received her Juris Doctorate from Notre Dame in Indiana.

“To have a local person on the Supreme Court would be such a gift,” said Thomas.

Barrett is known as an “originalist” in terms of her views of how the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted.

Tulane constitutional law expert Prof. Stephen Griffin explained the “originalism” idea.

“Originalism, as it’s practiced in the courts, is often associated closely with Justice Scalia and the people that he influenced, and his version of theory might be a little different than some academic versions,” Griffin said.

Barrett clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“As a practical matter what the theory has come to mean is a close attention to what’s called the original meaning of the constitution and that meaning is derived from a close examination of not just the words, but what the words meant in the context of their time,” said Griffin. “It’s often associated only with a conservative view of the constitution, a politically conservative view but it doesn’t have to be that way and there are some arguments people have made using originalism for what are normally regarded as liberal results.”

Liberals say Barrett’s legal views are too heavily influenced by her religious beliefs and they fear she would be amenable to rolling back abortion rights.

Thomas said there is no doubt pro-life forces want Roe versus Wade reversed by the Supreme Court.

“Well, certainly, it is our hope that Roe V. Wade will be overturned very soon and we do believe that she is as I said an originalist, she’s someone who seems to value life and value the constitution and the words of the constitution,” Thomas stated.

Griffin said originalism involves a narrower view of the constitution’s meaning.

“There’s no question that in theory and practice it’s a more narrow view of how to get, extract meaning from the constitution and they believe that this is more objective, but when the theory is actually practiced over and over again people have brought specific criticisms that they’re including certain evidence but ignoring others,” he said.

Griffin was asked about the long-term ideological impact of having Trump appoint a third conservative to the court. He said it would result in a conservative influence on case laws for many years.

“For decades to come. I know Democrats are already talking about expanding the size of the court but that’s probably going to be a reach,” said Griffin. “I don’t think there’s any question that this is a gigantic opportunity for conservatives to come very close, if not achieving nearly all of the objectives they’ve had in mind.”

FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman said Trump, in making his decision on a nominee, will weigh the political benefits as he seeks reelection.

“I think this nomination should be looked at purely through the lens of President Trump’s reelection efforts and what would be most helpful to him in winning over either critical voters he needs or solidifying his base with more excitement and enthusiasm,” said Sherman.

He said while having Barrett on the court would be a source of pride for many in Louisiana it is not the same kind of clout some Louisiana congressmen possess, in terms of helping the state.

“This is not like having Steve Scalise as Majority Whip or Cedric Richmond in a position of leadership. There’s no direct, tangible benefit to Louisiana except the pride of having someone on the high court,” said Sherman.

Democrats are furious over the president’s plan to appoint a new justice to the Supreme Court with only a little over a month until the presidential election. But Sherman agrees Democrats have little tools to stop Trump and Senate Republicans who appear to have the votes to confirm a new conservative justice.

“With a Republican in the White House and the Senate controlled by Republicans, liberals don’t have much of a voice in this Supreme Court confirmation process. It’s unlikely anyone President Trump would nominate would be satisfactory to liberals or progressives,” said Sherman.

Democrats also call Senate Republicans hypocrites because they blocked President Barack Obama’s election-year nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in 2016 after the sudden death of Scalia but now favor replacing Ginsburg less than two months before the presidential contest is decided.

“Gone are the days where the Senate was a body that respected minority rights, where it was a body that was supposed to reflect more stability in government with six-year terms compared to the House of Representatives two-year terms,” said Sherman.

He said the upper chamber now reflects the House.

“What we have is the divisiveness in America represented in the U.S. Senate and the rules of the game have changed. No longer does it take 60 votes to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. The nuclear option is in place; it takes 51. Republicans have control of both the Senate and the White House, if they can keep their party together, they can choose whoever they want,” said Sherman.

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