Amy Coney Barrett insists Supreme Court judges are not ‘partisan hacks’ in wake of Texas abortion ruling

Trump appointee draws distinction between judicial philosophies and positions taken by political parties

Namita Singh
Monday 13 September 2021 09:53 BST
Amy Coney Barrett sworn in as Supreme Court justice
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Donald Trump appointee Amy Coney Barrett has rejected the assertion that the US Supreme Court comprises of “a bunch of partisan hacks”, days after it passed a controversial 5-4 judgment that backed Texas’s restrictive new abortion law.

“To say the court’s reasoning is flawed is different from saying the court is acting in a partisan manner,” said Ms Barrett, criticising the media for allegedly not capturing the deliberative process of the court in reaching the judgements it makes.

“Judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties,” she insisted during a lecture hosted by the McConnell Centre at the University of Louisville on Sunday, adding there was a “need to evaluate what the court is doing on its own terms.”

Justice Barrett, who was introduced by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell at the 30th anniversary of the Centre that he founded, also cited a number of cases in which the nine justices did not vote along party lines, reported USA Today.

“The media, along with hot takes on Twitter, report the results and decisions… that makes the decision seem results-oriented. It leaves the reader to judge whether the court was right or wrong, based on whether she liked the results of the decision,” the judge was quoted as saying.

“And here’s the thing: Sometimes, I don’t like the results of my decisions. But it’s not my job to decide cases based on the outcome I want.”

Justice Barrett was appointed ahead of the 2020 presidential election to fill the vacancy left in the apex court after the death of liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and tilted the court towards a conservative majority.

Mr McConnell pushed for her appointment despite opposition from Democrats, who protested against it on the ground that the process was being rushed. They said the winner of the 2020 presidential election should pick the nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy.

While Mr McConnell rejected the Democrats’ argument, he had taken the same position in 2016 by refusing to hold hearings for a Supreme Court nominee appointed by then-president Barack Obama.

Ms Barrett’s appointment sealed a conservative majority of 6-3 in the top judicial body for the foreseeable future after the US senate voted 52-48, confirming her to the lifelong post.

During her speech, Ms Barrett said justices must be “hyper vigilant to make sure they’re not letting personal biases creep into their decisions, since judges are people, too.”

Her comments followed the Supreme Court’s controversial order that upheld the Texas law banning most abortions after a foetal heartbeat can be detected, prompting severe a backlash and protests from rights groups. There was a protest march outside the venue of Ms Barrett’s lecture as well.

But the Supreme Court justice refused to comment on individual cases after a student asked her about that emergency order and another ruling where the top court refused to block a lower court order directing the Biden administration to reinstate a Trump-era programme that forces people to wait in Mexico while seeking asylum in the country.

It would be “inappropriate” said the conservative judge as she declined to comment.

The 49-year-old judge also passed on some advice to young women seeking careers in public service, saying she would like them to know it is possible to raise a family and be successful.

Additional reporting from agencies

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