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How Justice Amy Coney Barrett Could Impact the Supreme Court

By Sriya Prathuri

On Monday October 26, Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed by the US Senate with a 52-48 vote to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. On Tuesday October 27, Barrett was sworn into office. Justice Barrettt served in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and was a law professor at Notre Dame. Her views align closely with the late Justice Scalia. Justice Barrett has a significant impact on the court, giving conservatives a 6-3 majority.

Justice Barrett has the potential to impact the court’s decisions on many pressing issues, such as healthcare, abortion, gun rights, and the environment. First, Justice Barrett is against the Affordable Care Act. On November 10, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether or not to overturn the ACA. In 2012, the late Justice Ginsburg was a deciding vote in the 5-4 majority to uphold the legality of the ACA. Justice Barrett would most likely vote to overturn the ACA, jeopardizing the healthcare of millions of Americans.

Justice Barrett also supports limiting access to abortion services, though she has not formally committed to overturning Roe v Wade. There are around 15 cases related to reproductive services that have potential to be argued in the Supreme Court, covering issues such as when to ban abortion during pregnancy, whether to notify parents of minors or not, etc. Justice Barrett would most likely vote to limit abortion and reproductive services in most if not all instances.

Justice Barrett would also impact the court’s stance on gun legislation. She is a strong supporter of gun rights, and believes that the Second Amendment has extensive scope. For example, in her dissent of the Kanter v. Barr decision regarding a former felon convicted of mail fraud who sued the government for violating his second amendment rights, Justice Barrett concluded that a felony based on mail fraud is not dangerous enough to limit a person’s second amendment rights. Now that she has been confirmed as a Justice, Barrett could vote for the court to review more gun-related cases, and would vote in favor of gun rights. This could undermine the legality of many gun control laws, such as red flag laws that limit gun rights to individuals determined by authorities to be threats, or background check laws that limit ownership of machine guns.

Justice Barrett also supports deregulation and believes that agencies such as the EPA could be an overreach of government power. There are several cases challenging the Trump Administration’s rollback of environmental protections. While Justice Barrett does not have an official stance on environmental policy, she would most likely rule in favor of the Republican Party and Trump Administration, who still do not acknowledge that climate change is real. Justice Barrett could severely limit the prospects of environmental law.

Overall, Justice Barrett’s presence on the court poses a severe threat to the values and ideals of the Democratic Party and America as a whole. Furthermore, Justice Barrett’s appointment does not reflect the true will of the American people, particularly in light of the upcoming elections this week. Possible paths of reforming the court include increasing the number of justices on the court and creating term limits for justices. For example, Representative Ro Khanna introduced H.R.8424 - Supreme Court Term Limits and Regular Appointments Act of 2020 in September, creating 18-year terms for new justices, after which they will rotate to lower courts.

Sriya Prathuri is a freshman from Cupertino, CA majoring in political science.