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Amy Coney Barrett is poised to become the third Supreme Court justice chosen by President Trump, ensuring a judicial legacy that will be felt for years to come. And after her confirmation, Barrett will quickly have a chance to make her imprint on some important and timely issues, including voting access and the Affordable Care Act. John Yang reports on how Barrett could change the Supreme Court.
Amy Coney Barrett is poised to become the third Supreme Court justice picked by President Trump, a legacy that will be felt for years, no matter the outcome of the election.
As John Yang reports, she will quickly have a chance to make her imprint on some big issues.
As the Senate wrapped up debate on Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court today, there have been bold predictions about what she would do as a justice.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.:
Almost 50 years of precedent upholding a woman's right to control her own body are in jeopardy.
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.:
Judge Barrett will uphold our cherished constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment.
Replacing the late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Barrett, a protege of the late conservative icon Antonin Scalia, would be the biggest ideological shift in decades.
Marcia Coyle is chief Washington correspondent for "The National Law Journal."
The court went 11 years without a change in justices until 2005. That was the longest period in modern history without a change in personnel on the court. In just 15 years, only four years more, the court has seen seven new justices. And so that's — that's something the court itself has to adjust to as well.
Once sworn in, Barrett could consider requests for the court to review mail-in ballot deadline changes for next week's election.
And beginning next week, she's set to take part in oral arguments on some hot-button cases, November 4, free exercise of religion and nondiscrimination. Can a Philadelphia Catholic charity reject same-sex foster parents? Questions from Barrett, who describes herself as a faithful Catholic, are sure to be closely watched to see how she keeps the pledge she made in her confirmation hearings.
Amy Coney Barrett:
I do see as distinct my personal, moral religious views and my task of applying the law as a judge.
I think she is going to be tested right away.
Ira Lupu of George Washington University law school has filed a friend of the court brief against the charity's position.
I think Amy Coney Barrett is going to have some strong personal views about — about the freedom of a Catholic organization to provide social services as it chooses and about same-sex marriage and the way Catholic services should be entitled to relate to the question of same-sex marriage.
The question, the mystery is to what extent those views are going to translate into constitutional views or legal views on the court.
November 10, the Affordable Care Act. Should it be struck down as unconstitutional? The fate of the ACA was a focus for Democrats throughout Barrett's confirmation hearings:
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn:
Your nomination is about the Republican goal of repealing the Affordable Care Act, the Obamacare they seem to detest so much.
Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.:
Unfortunately, that is the cloud, the orange cloud, over your nomination.
As a law school professor, Barrett criticized the previous Supreme Court rulings upholding the law. In her testimony, she sought to ease concerns.
I'm not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act. I'm just here to apply the law and adhere to the rule of law.
And on November 30, the census. Can the Trump administration exclude those illegally in the country from the numbers used to determine each state's representation in Congress for the next 10 years?
Not yet on the court's docket, but looming on the horizon, abortion. As a Notre Dame law school professor, Barrett signed statements affirming her personal anti-abortion beliefs. During her confirmation hearing, Barrett declined to call Roe vs. Wade a super precedent.
It's not a case that everyone has accepted and doesn't call for its overruling.
The closest case to the court is Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban. The justices could make a decision to hear that almost as soon as Barrett joins the court.
Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler:
The last time we had a Donald Trump nominee on the court who seemed to make a difference to abortion in Brett Kavanaugh, we saw a virtual explosion of anti-abortion legislation in 2019.
And so, I would expect, with Amy Coney Barrett, a justice who is at least personally very pro-life, that you would have a similar explosion and definitely many more appeals to the Supreme Court.
Analysts caution against reading too much into Barrett's early cases.
It can be the case that the effect of a new justice on the court isn't really fully known for some time.
I think it was Justice Breyer who said that it takes three to five years before a new justice really begins to feel comfortable being on the court. So, yes, it could take a while.
At 48, Barrett would be the youngest Supreme Court justice in nearly 30 years. And lifetime tenure means she will likely be on the bench for generations to come.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.
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John Yang is the anchor of PBS News Weekend and a correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. He covered the first year of the Trump administration and is currently reporting on major national issues from Washington, DC, and across the country.
Alex D'Elia is a politics production assistant for the PBS NewsHour. She can be reached at Adelia@newshour.org or on Twitter @AlexDEliaNews
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