Amy Coney Barrett ruled using the n-word does not make a work environment hostile

Ms Barrett ruled the plaintiff needed more evidence to prove the workplace was hostile

Graig Graziosi
Thursday 15 October 2020 13:31 BST
Graham calls for 'respectful' hearing on Amy Coney Barrett

US Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett's discernment is being questioned after her views on the use of the n-word in the workplace resurfaced.  

The Associated Press published a report on Ms Barrett's most notable judicial opinions, which included a 2019 workplace discrimination case in which she penned the opinion that the use of the n-word in the workplace had not "created a hostile or abusive working environment."  

Ms Barrett wrote on behalf of a unanimous three-judge panel that issued the ruling.  

In the ruling, Ms Barrett said that while she found the use of the word abhorrent, the plaintiff in the case had not made a strong enough case that harassment was occurring.  

"The n-word is an egregious racial epithet. That said, Smith can't win simply by proving that the word was uttered. He must also demonstrate that Colbert's use of this word altered the conditions of his employment and created a hostile or abusive working environment," she wrote.  

Jason Wincuinas, the editor at the Economist's Intelligence Unit, pointed out on Twitter that even Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh disagreed with her ruling on the matter.  

"[Justice Kavanaugh] wrote. "No other word in the English language so powerfully or instantly calls to mind our country's long and brutal struggle to overcome racism ... a single, sufficiently severe incident may create a hostile work environment."  

Many users on social media pointed out that Ms Barrett has two adopted black children, and asked whether she would feel the same if the word was used against them when they enter the working world.  

Ms Barrett's confirmation hearings began on Monday.

On Tuesday, Ms Barrett was pressed on her stance on a number of major Supreme Court cases and asked whether she would support overturning establishing the legality of gay marriage, abortion services and of the Affordable Care Act.  

Though she would not fully commit to an action one way or the other, she frequently reassured the Senate Judiciary Committee that she would issue rulings based on precedent and not her personal views or possible agendas.  

She would not commit to recusing herself from a ruling where she might have a conflict of interest. Some Democrats have demanded that Ms Barrett recuse herself from any Supreme Court rulings regarding the results of the upcoming 2020 US election

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