WASHINGTON | Judge Amy Coney Barrett, tipped to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court, is highly regarded by conservatives because of her traditional religious values that her critics say guide her reading of the law.
In 2018, she had already been among Donald Trump's favorites for a high court post, which was ultimately awarded to Brett Kavanaugh after a fierce political battle.
At 48, she could in turn make an eventful entry into the temple of American law. His profile, at odds with the very feminist and progressive “RBG”, indeed divides Americans.
Practicing Catholic, mother of seven children including two adopted from Haiti and a youngest with Down's syndrome, Amy Coney Barrett, is by personal conviction opposed to abortion.
After growing up in New Orleans, in the conservative southern United States, she graduated from Notre Dame Law School, a renowned Indiana denominational institution, where she later served as a professor for 15 years old.
Early in her career, Amy Coney Barrett worked for Conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, from whom she espoused an “originalist” view of the law, which requires reading the Constitution as it was intended when it was written.
This academic, praised for her chiseled arguments, however, has limited experience of the courts: she has only sat as a federal judge since 2017, after being appointed by Donald Trump.
His Senate confirmation process, mandatory under the US Constitution, had already been stormy. “Religious dogma lives loudly in you,” Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein had reproached him.
The formula had turned against its author, accused of intolerance, and had paradoxically increased the aura of the judge in religious circles. The ultraconservative group Judicial Crisis Network had even produced cups bearing the image of the magistrate overhung by the citation.
Without departing from her calm, Amy Coney Barrett had assured to distinguish between her faith and “her responsibilities as a judge”.
But his critics are not convinced of this and cite his numerous articles of legal doctrine written from Notre Dame, and his more recent decisions as a judge which, according to them, testify to his ideological orientation.
At the Chicago Federal Court of Appeals, she notably took positions favorable to guns and against migrants, women seeking abortions and the Obamacare health insurance law that Republicans want to dismantle.
“Kingdom of God”
One of his speeches, delivered to students of Notre-Dame, is frequently criticized.
Presenting herself as a “jurist of a different style”, she considered that a “legal career” was “a means in the service of a cause” and that the latter was “to build the Kingdom of God”.
If she entered the Supreme Court, “Judge Barrett, who even opposed access to contraception, would be a scourge for women's rights to reproductive health,” said Daniel Goldberg, director of the Alliance for Justice, a progressive legal lobby.
“She would join the other judges appointed by Trump to hurt our country for decades, long after she left the White House,” he predicts.
Conversely, conservative circles praise a “brilliant”, “impressive” woman. Proof of her popularity, on the internet, her admirers even represented her in Superman outfit.