The Obsession with Amy Coney Barrett’s Personal Politics (and what it really means)

If you pay any attention at all to Supreme Court confirmation hearings, you’ll find it hard to believe Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg were both confirmed by the Senate with almost complete unanimity (and not all that long ago). How could a justice as conservative as Scalia and a justice as liberal as Ginsburg each get the nod from almost the entire Senate?  

It’s actually simple:  It didn’t matter what the judges’ personal politics were, because the Constitution requires judges to rule without regard to their personal views.[1]  

Judge Barrett adheres to this “Originalist” judicial philosophy, so why would any senator be opposed?  Wouldn’t all senators want a justice committed to strictly applying the laws they, themselves, enact?  

Something has obviously changed, and that “something” is that many certain senators actually want justices who are willing to violate constitutional limitations to help them impose policies they can’t get passed in Congress (read: policies not supported by mainstream Americans). But this approach only works if a justice is on their side of the issues, which explains the relentless questioning of Judge Barrett on her policy positions (which she rightfully refuses to answer).   

Politicians who favor policies they can’t pass in Congress need judges (called “activist judges”) who are willing to forcefully impose their policies through court rulings. The American people have had to endure many unpopular policies because of this unconstitutional practice called “legislating from the bench,” a practice that should concern every American, left, right or center. Unchecked power in the hands of “the few” is counter to our entire system of government and historically never ends well.

Preserving our freedom requires that we confirm Originalist judges like Judge Barrett, who have a record of strictly applying the laws enacted by those we elect to pass them, refusing to legislate from the bench. Her confirmation does not pose a threat to any American who believes the power to make the policies that govern our lives is best left to the body that is accountable to us. 

[1] Our Constitution strictly limits a judge’s role to applying laws, whether the judge agrees with those laws or not. This is a simple “separation-of-powers” issue:  

Congress is the branch that enacts laws.  Senators and representatives have a strong interest in enacting laws that honor the will of the people, because those who elected them can also vote them out of office.  

Judges, on the other hand, cannot be voted out.  The reason is, we need judges to be able to impartially apply the laws without fear of losing their job and free from powerful outside influences (special interests, etc.).  And because the people do not have the power to vote them out, they are prohibited from any and all policy-making functions.  (If we can’t vote them out, we don’t want them deciding how we should live our lives.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s