Letter to the Editor | Editorial board’s case against Barrett reveals underlying bias

In a recent editorial, the editorial board of The Pitt News wrote that Judge Amy Coney Barrett is “far from qualified” to serve on the Supreme Court. The editorial attempts to support this claim by referring to her “problematic” values and “care-free” attitude during the hearings. Devoid of a legitimate case against her qualifications, this editorial instead uses her conservative personal values as a basis for their claim that she is unqualified.

The main portion of the editorial focuses on four issues in an attempt to prove that Barrett is unqualified — abortion, gay marriage, climate change and the Affordable Care Act. The editorial repeatedly emphasizes that by polling data, the majority of Americans do not hold the same positions on these topics as Barrett. It should be noted that Barrett’s refusal to comment on climate change is consistent with the Ginsburg Rule established by Joe Biden in 1993.

The idea that the state of public opinion at the time of a Judge’s nomination should determine their qualification for service is absurd. In 1942, two-thirds of white Americans opposed integrating schools, and in 1956, a 49% plurality of all Americans believed that white and Black students should go to separate schools. Despite that, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against racial segregation in its landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education. A majority of those justices were appointed to the court prior to 1942 when public opinion heavily opposed the racial integration of schools. Thankfully, they were not held to the same standard as outlined in The Pitt News editorial. Despite what some on the left may think, the judiciary is not intended to uphold the political policy preferences of the majority, but rather to rule in accordance with the Constitution and existing law. This intention is articulated by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 78 where he says that if a court is “disposed to exercise WILL instead of JUDGEMENT,” there is in fact no need for a judicial body distinct from the legislature. Judge Barrett’s articulate defense of this originalist jurisprudence has left few substantive arguments against her confirmation.

Therefore, the editorial instead claimed that Barrett was “in many ways…vastly unprepared for the hearings.” Despite the claim of many examples, the editorial board only manages to muster two extraordinarily weak ones. Barrett struggled to remember the final freedom granted by the first amendment to the Constitution. The editorial itself, and Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., refers to this “basic tenant of the Constitution,” as the right to protest, when in fact, the amendment concludes with the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The right to peacefully protest is itself derived from the combination of freedoms granted in the first amendment. Barrett’s lack of notes is also used in the editorial as an indication of her unpreparedness. However, are we to believe that if Barrett had instead needed to read directly from the Constitution — as Justice Ginsburg did in her hearings — she would have been deemed by the editorial board fit for service? I believe the tenor of the piece and the editorial board’s objection to her confirmation stated prior to the hearings strongly suggest otherwise. 

The fact that these inconsequential examples from four days of Senate hearings are the basis of the editorial’s case against Barrett’s fitness for the court indicates just how weak that case is and reinforces the strong left-leaning bias of the editorial board at large. I for one am looking forward to an upcoming editorial declaring Joe Biden unfit for the presidency because hopefully, we can agree that a presidential candidate should at least know he is running for president and remember the opening words of the Declaration of Independence — a basic tenet of democracy.

Daniel Stumpp is a senior electrical engineering major. Stumpp submitted this letter Oct. 18.