Alumni want Amy Coney Barrett removed from school’s Hall of Fame over ‘inconsistent’ testimony

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An alumni group from Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s alma mater, Rhodes College, is planning to ask school officials for her removal from the college’s Hall of Fame.

The Rhodes College Alumni for Reproductive Rights group shared a letter and petition on Thursday, Aug. 4, that says her testimony during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings was a breach of the Rhodes College honor code.

The letter, signed by alumni Rob Marus and Katherine Morgan Breslin, details how the group believes Barrett’s written and court opinions have been “deeply inconsistent” with her testimony, including what the group says were “misleading statements” on constitutional protections for abortion during her confirmation hearing and her “likelihood to shred decades of precedent in the future.”

The letter comes after Barrett was one of five justices who overturned Roe v. Wade, a 1973 Supreme Court decision that held the Constitution protects the right to an abortion. The recent decision left the issue up to the states to regulate.

Barrett graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, with her undergraduate degree in 1994 before attending law school at Notre Dame in Indiana. She was nominated as a Supreme Court justice by former President Donald Trump after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and was confirmed by the Senate in October 2020.

“We believe it is time to take her at her written, rather than spoken, word. And we believe that Justice Amy Coney Barrett is one of the biggest current threats to our fundamental rights, the stability of our nation, and our democracy,” the letter states. “Simply being one of our most famous alumni is not a sufficient reason for the College to continue honoring someone thus who has very publicly breached the most fundamental Rhodes values.”

McClatchy News reached out to the Supreme Court for comment from Barrett and did not immediately receive a response.

In a statement to McClatchy News, Rhodes College said the school is “aware that some alumni are soliciting signatures for a letter regarding Justice Amy Coney Barrett,” but that it has no comment at this time because it has not yet been delivered.

Marus, the lead author of the letter, told McClatchy news that the group plans to officially send the petition and letter to the college after its signing deadline of Aug. 19.

The Rhodes College Alumni for Reproductive Rights group was initially created in 2020, Marus said, as “Rhodes Alumni Against Amy Coney Barrett’s Nomination” to oppose her confirmation to the Supreme Court.

It was later reactivated, Marus added, “after she joined the majority opinion in the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey,” a 1992 ruling from the Supreme Court that also upheld the constitutional right to an abortion.

Nancy Turner was one of Barrett’s classmates and a founding member of Alumni for Amy, an organization that supported her nomination to the Supreme Court.

Turner, who was also inducted into the college’s Hall of Fame, described Barrett as a “popular, very intelligent” student.

“The very small group of Rhodes alumni who are once again fueled by political anger as they were by her nomination in 2020, and who have now adopted a very misguided interpretation of her vote in the Dobbs decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, do not speak for the vast majority of Rhodes alumni who are extremely proud of Justice Barrett’s accomplishments,” Turner told McClatchy News. “Invoking the Rhodes Honor Code to make clearly false public accusations against her is an embarrassment not only to the institution which once valued diversity of thought and free speech, but also to many Rhodes alumni.”

The 1994 Rhodes College Alumni Hall of Fame.
The 1994 Rhodes College Alumni Hall of Fame.

Members of Alumni for Amy are concerned, Turner said, that their alma mater has shown an “unwillingness” to laud Barrett as one its most successful alumni.

“We expect the College, now led under what we hope to be improved new leadership, to reject the illogical and absurd petition filed against Justice Barrett asking for her to be removed from the College’s Hall of Fame, a permanent recognition of her considerable accomplishments as a Rhodes student,” Turner said.

In an Aug. 9 post on its Facebook page, the reproductive rights group said its organizers “have been subjected to threatening calls from nuts who somehow obtained our personal cell phone numbers, and we have also been targeted in our professional lives” in the days since the letter was posted.

“We will not be deterred in our efforts by any backlash. Unlike her apologists, we are motivated solely by upholding the Rhodes values of truth, loyalty, and service that our alma mater taught us,” Marus said. “We believe — and our letter explains why — Justice Barrett clearly has violated the Rhodes Honor System with her swift action not only to remove an established right to bodily autonomy for millions upon millions of Americans, but also to endanger the very foundation of other hard-earned rights for millions of other Americans, including rights to privacy and equality for LGBTQ people, the right to contraception and countless others.”

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