Katherine Benjamin, Garrett Park
It was interesting that Dana Milbank’s Sept. 27 Sunday Opinion column, “This is not a drill. The Reichstag is burning” should be followed on the op-ed page by O. Carter Snead’s “Liberals have nothing to fear from Barrett.”
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has already passed her judgment on the Reichstag fire by putting her nomination ahead of the people’s preference for justice and her failure to stand up to the man who appointed her. Her obvious preconfirmation collapse of moral judgment in favor of her personal wishes means we do, in fact, have much to worry about, whether we consider ourselves liberal or conservative.
James M. Kauffman, Afton, Va.
O. Carter Snead tried to reassure everyone about Amy Coney Barrett’s fitness to serve on the Supreme Court [“Liberals have nothing to fear from Barrett,” op-ed, Sept. 27]. He described her basic attributes: She is smart, kind, humble, honest and selfless. Then he delivered the real crux of the matter: Ms. Barrett is an originalist, looking to the original meaning of the Constitution in reaching decisions. That makes me very afraid.
Originalists want to go back to the 1780s to find the basis of judicial rulings. They want to return to a world in which Black people could be enslaved, women could not own property, Native Americans could be subjugated, children did not need education and government had no role in protecting health or the environment. Originalists are not interested in the evolving nature of the American experiment. They do not care that our nation and its institutions are now vastly different from when a small group of well-to-do White men wrote the Constitution. They look for every opportunity to roll back progress.
Originalists are not interested in 21st-century ideas — or even the complex, remarkable developments of the 20th century — on a broad range of topics: human rights, international relations, land use, health care, banking controls, gay rights, prescription drugs, police reform, public transportation, weapons of war, the Internet, abortion rights and so on. They just want to discern what was in the minds of the Founders to find answers to today’s tough questions.
We all should be very afraid of adding yet another originalist to the Supreme Court.
Robert Tiller, Silver Spring
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett in some ways seems like a nominee out of central casting. She has an impressive academic record, a successful career and an admirable personal life. Unfortunately, if she is confirmed, her conservative views of the Constitution, and her publicly stated willingness to reverse previously settled legal precedents, will help push Supreme Court decisions to the far right — to positions contrary to American popular opinion. At risk in the immediate future is the Affordable Care Act. Millions of people might lose their health insurance amid a pandemic. People with preexisting health conditions might be uninsurable. Beyond the immediate, gay rights, minority rights and women’s reproductive rights would be in jeopardy.
Ms. Barrett will not replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her appointment would be part of an effort to eradicate Ms. Ginsburg’s record. Actually, it may require expansion of the court and the addition of four new justices to replace the amazing Justice Ginsburg and preserve her legacy.
Elva Card, Fairfax
The issue for the forthcoming hearings on the nomination to the Supreme Court of Amy Coney Barrett is with the hypocritical Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) holding the hearings, not with Ms. Barrett. I think the Democrats can fight with Mr. McConnell, who appears to have the votes, but conduct their part of the hearings in such a manner as they make their points with the candidate in a civil and dignified manner.
The tone needs to change, and I think the Democrats ought to take the high road. Nothing is going to be gained by another Kavanaugh-type hearing. Ms. Barrett is evidently respected by the bench and the bar. Question her record, question her on the People of Praise beliefs, but there are different ways to do it. Let it be a civil hearing, not one with a hostile posture.
William Moore, Arlington
O. Carter Snead’s Sept. 27 op-ed attempting to reassure liberals about Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett was almost funny. He supported claims about Ms. Barrett’s intelligence with credible testimony; claims about her faith, humility, kindness and open-mindedness with poignant anecdote; and those about her probable future legal reasoning with her own scholarship and statements.
Though intelligence, humility and kindness are certainly desirable in a Supreme Court justice, taken alone they are irrelevant to the misgivings many of us have about Ms. Barrett. The one relevant trait, her open-mindedness, is the most vaguely argued and documented. Of necessity, his assessment of her future legal reasoning is speculative. But it would be more persuasive if he supported it with examples from her opinions on the bench rather than statements she made in an article, or even under oath in a job interview.
Ultimately, Mr. Snead’s argument must be assessed based on his own credibility. He is a conservative, pro-life lawyer and scholar who implicitly claims qualification to address liberals’ varied anxieties about Ms. Barrett because he has “many progressive friends.” This willingness to speak for others, a familiar form of argument from the right, is what makes it almost funny. But I’m not laughing.
Christopher J. Richter, Roanoke