Amy Coney Barrett’s ‘moral relativism’ should rule her out of Supreme Court seat, Catholic newspaper says

Danielle Zoellner
Thursday 22 October 2020 11:33
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Senator asks Amy Coney Barrett if she hates little warm puppies

The National Catholic Reporter, a progressive-leaning newspaper, has come out against the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett in a scathing editorial, saying her “moral relativism" should rule her out for a Supreme Court seat. 

In the editorial, the staff of the National Catholic Reporter called for the United States Senate to reject Mrs Barrett’s nomination based on her responses during her hearings about the climate crisis, as well as how the Senate treated an open Supreme Court seat after Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016. 

“The hypocrisy is rank, and it is impossible to see how rushing this nomination will be good for our democracy,” the editorial read, calling out Republicans “double standard” for blocking President Barack Obama for filling Justice Scalia’s seat so close to the election in 2016 while putting forth President Donald Trump’s nomination in 2020. 

“Barrett is not responsible for [Senate Leader Mitch] McConnell's behaviour, but she has allowed herself to be a vehicle for his agenda and that of President Donald Trump.” 

The main issue the editorial took with Mrs Barrett’s appointment, though, was the “moral relativism” she displayed during the Senate hearings. 

During the hearings, Mrs Barrett confirmed that Covid-19 was contagious and smoking would cause cancer. But she could not offer an opinion to the senators about the climate crisis, something that Mr Trump has pushed against despite scientific proof it’s a serious environmental problem. 

Mrs Barrett called the issue a “very contentious matter of public debate” and refused to offer her firm opinion. 

“If Barrett really has doubts on the subject, she is not intellectually qualified to serve on the bench, and we suspect she knows that,” the newspaper wrote. “She was simply willing to embrace moral relativism rather than risk a nasty tweet from the man who nominated her.” 

The newspaper found the most “repugnant” realisation about Mrs Barrett and her alleged “moral relativism” came from her belief in originalism and textualism. 

Originalism is a view held by some judges, including the late Justice Scalia, that the Constitution is a self-interpreting text and should be interpreted based on the Founding Fathers’ original intentions for the document at the time it was written. 

"The logic of Barrett's originalism is that [Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg’s legal theories were not just different but were illegitimate. Barrett's relativism, like the man who nominated her, is on steroids," the newspaper wrote. 

Mrs Barrett has faced scrutiny for her Catholic faith and conservative views following the president’s nomination. Republicans have even accused people against her nomination of being anti-Catholic. 

"When you tell somebody that they’re too Catholic to be on the bench, when you tell them they’re going to be a Catholic judge, not an American judge, that’s bigotry,” Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican of Missouri, said during the Senate hearings. 

If nominated, Mrs Barrett would be one of six conservative judges on the Supreme Court, five of whom are Catholic. 

The National Catholic Reporter addressed this number and expressed concern that this would give the public a bad perception about the Catholic faith. 

“We at NCR do not like the prospect of five of the six conservative justices being Catholic and worry what that says about our church,” the newspaper wrote. "In America, however, there are no religious tests for office and no senator should oppose Barrett on account of her religion.

“Americans deserve better than a relativist dressed in originalist drag.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote on Mrs Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court on Thursday. A full Senate vote will likely to take place on 26 October. 

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