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Amy Coney Barrett, Good People, and Ideology

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tags: Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett



Walter G. Moss is a professor emeritus of history at Eastern Michigan University. His most recent book is An Age of Progress?: Clashing Twentieth-Century Global Forces (2008). For a list of all his recent books and online publications, including many on Russian history and culture, go here.

The question of whether the U. S. Senate should even consider Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court this essay will not address. Instead I wish to examine another question: How can people who possess many fine qualities, like personal kindness, be so wrong–to my mind–about political matters? How can any such people, for example, vote for Trump? 

As a progressive, I have often wondered about this. Perhaps many other progressives have too. Much of recent media reporting about Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s choice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, has led me to reflect further on this.

According to various media reports, Barrett takes her Catholicism seriously and tries to be a good Catholic. Many of her fellow judges and professors at Notre Dame Law School, including some liberals, think she is a fine person. One of them, O. Carter Snead, has written in The Washington Post, “I have many progressive friends who, already anxious about our country, are finding the possibility that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg might be replaced by Amy Coney Barrett almost too much to bear. But . . . . I can assure worried liberals that there is nothing about the prospect of a Justice Barrett that should cause them to fear.” He goes on to say, “Even more reassuring to Barrett skeptics should be her remarkable humility. There are plenty of smart people in elite academia and on the federal bench, but few with Barrett’s generosity of spirit.” 

Although I am willing to concede that Barrett may be a fine person in many respects, Snead’s assurance that progressives or liberals (not really the same) have no reason to be anxious or fearful about her nomination is more problematic.

 

Read entire article at LA Progressive

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