Ask Dr. Land: Why is there such a firestorm over Amy Coney Barrett?

Question:  Why does Amy Coney Barrett so significantly symbolize political and cultural change?

Richard Land
(Photo: The Christian Post/Katherine T. Phan)

It now appears clear that the Democrats in the Senate and their fellow-travelers in the mainstream media are prepared to “burn the house down,” or in this case, the Senate, in order to block the confirmation of Appeals Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett (ACB) as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Why would they create such a firestorm (several leading Democratic Senators refusing to even meet with ACB). There are several reasons far more substantive than the political smokescreen of this being an election year and “we should wait until after the election and let whoever wins on Nov. 3 select the nominee to replace Justice Ginsburg.

First, and foremost, ACB’s elevation to the court would give conservatives a clear working majority of justices on the Supreme Court for the first time since before the ascendency of the Earl Warren court in the 1950s nearly 70 years ago.

For decades tens of millions of Americans have been frustrated by the Supreme Court’s expansionist tendencies and its inflamed impulse to legislate from the bench and attempt to impose upon the people what the American people have been not willing to pass into law through their elected representatives.

The Liberal Establishment (if you don’t think there is one, you are part of it) ever since the Warren Court has exhibited the nasty habit of doing an end run around the nation’s elected representatives (at the federal level the Senate, the House, the President; and at the state level, governors, legislatures) and pushing through a liberal agenda that does not represent the will of the people.

Two examples of this raw, extra-constitutional judicial power will suffice as examples. A significant majority of the American people had through state constitutional amendments and other democratic methods, made it clear that they supported the traditional heterosexual, monogamous definition of marriage between “a man and a woman.” Yet in June 2015, the Supreme Court chose to overrule the people’s expressed wishes in their Obergefell v Hodges (2015) decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all fifty states.

Chief Justice John Roberts, in his dissenting opinion to the 5-4 majority opinion, was unusually forthright and blunt in expressing his vehement disagreement with the Court’s action. Some examples from his trenchant dissent are as follows:

“Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage. . . .”
“The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or in this court’s precedent.”

And the Chief Justice wasn’t finished. He warned the Court in June 2015. He continues,

“The Court’s accumulation of power does not occur in a vacuum. It comes at the expense of the people. And the people know it.”

He then informs the Court’s majority that “there will be consequences.” He then cites Justice Ginsberg criticizing the Roe v Wade decision, quoting her: “Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved conflict.” (Ginsberg, “Some Thoughts on Autonomy and Equality in Relation to Roe v. Wade [1985]).

Roe v. Wade was the second example of this exercise in raw, extra-constitutional power. Justice Ginsberg was right that Roe v. Wade made abortion a much more contentious and divisive issue than it would have been had the Court left the issue in the political realm. If that had been done, you would have had relatively pro-life states and relatively pro-choice states with laws that reflected that consensus. In attempting to take the issue away from the people, they just raised the degree of frustration to the boiling point among the voting public.

On January 22, 1973, Walter Cronkite, in commenting on the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that abolished all the restrictions on abortion in all fifty states, stated the following in mellifluous tone: “Today, the Supreme Court settled the contentious issue of abortion.” Obviously, Mr. Cronkite was wrong.

Chief Justice Roberts’ warning that there would be consequences to the Obergefell decision as there was to Roe, proved prophetic. The very next year Donald Trump pulled off the biggest upset in American presidential history, and 26% of his voters said their number one reason for voting for him was his promise to nominate only strict, constructionist, original intent jurists to the federal courts — a promise he has faithfully kept.

President Trump has completely shifted the make-up of the federal courts after three generations of radical, activist, liberal bias.

And now, if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court as President Trump’s third Supreme Court appointment, he will have given the Supreme Court a clean, working strict constructionist majority.

The liberal establishment knows that they will have then lost the main leverage in enacting their agenda in spite of the misgivings and opposition of the American people.

However, there is another, deeper reason ACB is arousing such hysterical opposition on the left. She is a living, breathing, articulate, attractive, mature woman who is also the mother of seven children (two of which are adopted) and by all reports very happily married to a very supportive husband who, to her mild chagrin, is considered by her children to be a better cook than she is.

As Rachel Campos-Duffy observed, “Barrett’s life challenges the feminist notion that fertility and children are a drain on a woman’s ambition. In her case, children and family gave her professional ambition purpose and perspective” (Rachel Campos-Duffy, Fox News, September 29, 2020).

ACB challenges the choices many older feminists made in the name of freedom and ambition, and she has presented many younger women with a different, more positive model to follow as they move forward with their life choices — a very different feminist role model than Hillary Clinton.

My guess is that this does not make the Hillaryistas very “happy” — quite the opposite, at least subconsciously.

Dr. Richard Land, BA (magna cum laude), Princeton; D.Phil. Oxford; and Th.M., New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, was president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (1988-2013) and has served since 2013 as president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC. Dr. Land has been teaching, writing, and speaking on moral and ethical issues for the last half century in addition to pastoring several churches. He is the author of The Divided States of America, Imagine! A God Blessed America, Real Homeland Security, For Faith & Family and Send a Message to Mickey.

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