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Constitutional law professor weighs in on Coney Barrett’s potential impact on Supreme Court

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 12:50 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2020 at 1:04 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Judge Amy Coney Barrett is officially the nominee to take over the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court. Coney Barrett accepted the nomination from President Trump in a Rose Garden ceremony on Saturday. Our Erin Brown spoke with Jared Carter, a constitutional law professor at Vermont Law School, about how Barrett would fit on the high court.

“If you look at the decisions she’s written or dissented from, I think it’s pretty clear she’s going to part of a shift to the right at the U.S. Supreme Court,” Carter said.

He says there’s no question Barrett is more conservative than her predecessor, but he says he wouldn’t call her an extremist, as some critics are painting her as. Carter compares her to the late Antonin Scalia, who Barrett once clerked for.

“So for some folks, I suppose he was an extremist. For others, he was a straight shooter,” Carter said. “Is she likely to shift the court further to the right? Absolutely. Are we going to see changes in respect to major rules of law? I think undoubtedly. Is she an extremist with no judicial temperament? I don’t think so.”

Carter says Barrett has indicated she’s not as tied to the principle of precedent, which gives previous recent Supreme Court decisions stability and protection from being reversed. He predicts controversial decisions like Roe v. Wade could be restricted under a majority-conservative court, but not overturned.

“So I think what we’re likely to see, at least in my view, is not a wholesale reversal of Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose but I think we’re going to see states being able to more-closely restrict and more-closely regulate the right to an abortion,” he said.

People in Burlington we spoke with say they don’t know enough about Barrett and her political views just yet, but they’re not warmed up to the idea of a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

“It’s pretty scary. I don’t know exactly how things will change but I think it’s definitely going to define the country for the next couple of decades,” said Nathan Rubin.

“My husband and I, this coming Tuesday, will be celebrating the fifth anniversary of our being married. That could very well be taken away,” said Gary Stuard. “We need the Supreme Court to be balanced and represented all of us. Not just a conservative faction and not just a liberal faction but all of America,” said Steven Lisi.

If Barrett gets confirmed to the Supreme Court, Carter predicts the conservative majority will fight for more robust religious freedom protections.

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