'Certainly possible': Donald Trump says Amy Coney Barrett could help Supreme Court upend abortion laws

Amy Coney Barrett's appointment would give the US Supreme Court a six-three balance in favour of conservative opinion.

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives with Judge Amy Coney Barrett to introduce her as his the Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on September 26, 2020. Photo by Yuri Gripas/ABACAPRESS.COM.

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives with Judge Amy Coney Barrett to introduce her as his the Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee on Saturday 26 September. Source: ABACA

US President Donald Trump says it’s "certainly possible" his latest Supreme Court nominee could be part of a ruling upending landmark abortion laws. 

Amy Coney Barrett was selected by Mr Trump on Saturday to fill the spot vacated by the death of liberal Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

If she is confirmed by the Senate, Judge Barrett’s appointment would give the nine-member court six conservative justices. 

Donald Trump announces judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court pick

A practicing Catholic, Judge Barrett has given rulings and written legal articles indicating her opposition to abortion rights.

Progressives and Democrats in America fear her appointment to the Supreme Court could allow a legal challenge to the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, which would revoke the constitutional right of women to access abortions across the United States. 

“It’s certainly possible and maybe they’d do it in a different way, maybe they’d give it back to the states,” Mr Trump told Fox News Sunday.

In 2019, a number of states passed "heartbeat bills" banning or restricting access to abortions under most circumstances, with the intent of provoking a legal challenge to the Roe v. Wade ruling.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice organization, ten states have legislated so-called trigger bans that would outlaw all or most abortions if Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court.

Nine states also have unenforced abortion bans passed before 1973 which would come back into effect.

There are two cases related to abortion rights before the Supreme Court, one of which challenges a 2018 Mississippi ban on abortions from 15 weeks.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett (R) speaks after being introduced by US President Donald J. Trump as his nominee to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
Source: EPA

Mr Trump said even if Judge Barrett is confirmed, he was not sure how she would vote on abortion issues but said she is “certainly conservative in her views and our rulings.”

“If you look at her, her past actions and rulings, I guess she maybe would be in the [pro-life] category that you mentioned,” he said.

“Mostly I'm looking for somebody that can interpret the constitution as written … and she is very strong on that.”

Amy Coney Barrett addresses Roe v Wade in 2017 hearing

Judge Barrett is Mr Trump's third Supreme Court appointee in his first term in office.

In 2017, the President nominated Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan.

Fellow Reagan appointee Anthony Kennedy, whose swing vote helped legalise same-sex marriage among other landmark cases, retired from the court in 2018, allowing Mr Trump to appoint Brett Kavanaugh.

The US Supreme Court bench as seen in 2018. If Amy Coney Barrett replaced Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (F-2-R) the court would have a 6-3 conservative bias.
Source: EPA

Mr Trump has said both judges were picked because of their conservative, textualist views on the US constitution, with the nominations preserving the court’s 5-4 conservative balance under President Barack Obama.

But 2020 has seen the Trump administration dealt multiple blows in the Supreme Court, including an LGBTQI+ workplace rights ruling in June that saw Justice Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts vote with their liberal colleagues.

The court also ruled against the president’s bid to end the DACA immigration program, which offers protection from deportation for immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children.

“I’ve been surprised by some of the rulings that we’ve already had over the last year,” Mr Trump admitted.

“You think you know somebody and then you get rulings that are a little bit different than you think will happen.”

Published 28 September 2020 at 1:31pm, updated 28 September 2020 at 1:35pm
By Evan Young, Naveen Razik