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Amy Coney Barrett’s America is a terrifying place
So that’s that then. The confirmation hearings are over and it is almost inevitable that Amy Coney Barrett will be confirmed as a supreme court justice before the November election. Barrett will shift the supreme court from a 5-4 conservative majority to a 6-3 super-majority, a move that could fundamentally reshape America. Goodbye civil rights, hello Gilead.
You’ve got to hand it to the Republicans really; they get things done. They don’t care about being called hypocrites. They don’t care about ignoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish that she not be replaced until after the election. They don’t care about common decency. They don’t care about democracy. They just care about power – and they will do whatever it takes to get it.
So just how bad will Barrett be? Could her confirmation mean the end of Roe v Wade and the federal right to an abortion in America? Is marriage equality in danger? Is it possible she could criminalize birth control? Is America on its way to becoming a Divine Republic? Are we going to look at The Handmaid’s Tale and realize it was a documentary?
It’s hard to say for sure. Barrett said little of substance during the hearings, repeating over and over again that she would follow the law not her personal convictions. Which, it’s worth reiterating, are religious and regressive. People of Praise, the Christian community where Barrett previously served as a “handmaid” (the not-at-all creepy term they used for female leaders), for example, is anti-abortion and expels members for gay sex.
“Leave Barrett’s religion out of it!”, many on the right have said. I would be very happy to if it were clear that Barrett would leave religion out of her work. But it’s hard to feel confident that is the case. Barrett has, after all, worked for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), America’s largest anti-LGBTQ legal organization. She taught a class at five different sessions of the ADF’s legal fellowship program, which is designed to train Christian lawyers “to foster legal systems that fully protect our God-given rights”. Barrett repeated that she doesn’t “have an agenda” throughout the hearings – but the ADF very clearly does. As the Christian Science Monitor recently noted: “If Judge Barrett is confirmed, it would represent a culmination of decades long efforts by the conservative Christian legal movement to move from the periphery of the legal world into the mainstream.”
The few things Barrett did say during the hearings also don’t bode well. She admitted, for example, that she doesn’t view Roe as a “super-precedent”: cases that are so well-settled that no one would seriously push for their overruling. This, coupled with her judicial record, which shows a commitment to reducing abortion access, means Roe could be in real trouble.
Barrett’s comments – or, rather, lack thereof – on same-sex marriage and birth control were also telling. Barrett refused to give an opinion on how Obergefell v Hodges, the 2015 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, or Griswold v Connecticut, a case regarding birth control, were decided. That’s particularly concerning as Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Samuel Alito, recently gratuitously attacked Obergefell as having “ruinous consequences for religious liberty”.
“This goose is cooked,” Cory Booker said as the Barrett hearings wound up. It certainly is – but there’s still hope that our civil rights aren’t completely done for. It’s possible Biden wins by a landslide and the Democrats get control of the House and Senate. This would give them the ability to expand the supreme court. The question is, will they actually do this? In a town hall event on Thursday, Biden said he’ll let us all know sometime before election day. In the meantime, maybe it’s worth researching how to immigrate to Canada.
Thousands of Uighur children being left without parents
Government documents indicate that in 2018 more than 9,500 mostly Uighur children were classified as having at least one parent in prison, detention, or a re-education centre. China’s persecution of the Uighurs is a crime against humanity; the world needs to be paying it far more attention than it is. As well as detaining Uighurs there are reports that women are being sterilized. Government data shows that in two Uighur regions, the birth rate fell by more than 60% from 2015 to 2018. Nationwide over the same period, births only fell by 4.2%.
How the Women’s KKK courted members through empowerment feminism
Do read this fascinating history of the Women’s KKK, an affiliated but separate Klan organisation for white Protestant women. Its racist and individualistic brand of ‘feminism’ feels particularly relevant this week in light of the Barrett hearings.
Nasa made a space toilet for women
Up until now space toilets were tricky for women because they weren’t configured for what Nasa politely calls “dual ops”. I won’t get into the murky details – but there’s all the information you could possibly want on extraterrestrial excretions in this Atlantic article.
Princeton to pay nearly $1m to female professors in back wages
This follows a multi-year investigation into gender pay disparities at the university.
Mexico identifies two women who may have had non-consensual surgery
Remember the allegations that detained women at a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement centre in Georgia were being operated on without their consent? Mexico has been investigating and has identified two of its nationals who received surgery they didn’t authorize.
The week in Brazilian buttriarchy
Chico Rodrigues, a Brazilian senator, has been caught with a wad of banknotes in his buttocks. Police found the concealed bundle during a raid that was part of an operation against the suspected misappropriation of public funds for fighting Covid-19. It is a find, many have suggested, that will be remembered “in the anals of history”.