The ABCs of ACB

Amy Coney Barrett
Amy Coney Barrett in 2018.

Rachel Malehorn via Wikimedia Commons

The death last week of liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did the impossible: it broke through the 2020 news cycle, monopolizing our attention even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing protests, and ambient lunacy of the Trump White House. And it hasn’t let go, as multiple reports indicate that Trump will soon announce conservative jurist and South Bend resident Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to succeed Ginsburg. Barrett, currently a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, was floated as a potential nominee during both previous Trump-era Supreme Court vacancies, and her legal originalism and strong Catholic faith gall liberal critics just as they thrill pro-life conservatives. Below are five stories to help you get acquainted with the Hoosier who will very likely be next seated on America’s highest court.

“To Conservatives, Barrett Has ‘Perfect Combination’ of Attributes for Supreme Court,” Elizabeth Dias and Adam Liptak, The New York Times

Dias and Liptak provide a comprehensive overview of not just Barrett’s career and background, but the supercharged political state of play in which her nomination, “viewed as a home run by conservative Christians and anti-abortion activists,” is unfolding.

“Profile of a potential nominee: Amy Coney Barrett,” Amy Howe, SCOTUSBlog

For the legal nitty-gritty on Barrett’s personal background and path to the Supreme Court, read Amy Howe at SCOTUSBlog, who recounts in detail not just Barrett’s career as a judge but her 15-year stint teaching at Notre Dame, where she articulated her conservative legal philosophy at length.

“Judge’s faith becomes early flashpoint in Supreme Court fight,” Ben Schreckinger, Politico

When California’s U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein admonished the devoutly Catholic Barrett in 2017 that “the dogma lives loudly within you,” Catholics and religious conservatives cried foul, leading to back-and-forth accusations of both anti-Catholic bigotry and nascent theocracy. Schreckinger reports on the fight over whether Barrett’s personal beliefs will be fair game during her Supreme Court nomination hearings.

“Notre Dame profs push back on Amy Coney Barrett portrayals: Not just ‘an ideological category’” Christian Scheckler, The South Bend Tribune

The South Bend Tribune reported on Barrett and her faith through the eyes of her Notre Dame colleagues, one of whom said “If she’s being considered by a Republican administration, that means they think she’s going to be more conservative … people are reducing Amy to an ideological category instead of taking her for who she is: an intelligent, thoughtful, open-minded person.”

“The story behind potential Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s little-known Catholic group, People of Praise,” Michelle Boorstein and Julie Zauzmer, The Washington Post

Boorstein and Zauzmer explain the background and beliefs of People of Praise, “a tightknit, mostly Catholic group of about 1,700 adult members across the country” of which Barrett is a member. The group, which emerged in South Bend in the 1960s, referred to regional female leaders of the group as “handmaids” before Margaret Atwood’s novel and its television adaptation gave the term an unwelcome political charge.