Barrett’s Backlash


Lucy Hettinger

This image was taken from a 1991 Rhodes College yearbook. This is Amy Coney Barrett’s freshman picture.

Personal connections and conflicts surface after Rhodes alum Amy Coney Barrett is nominated for the Supreme Court. After the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Donald Trump had the choice to replace her spot on the Supreme Court or hold off until the 2020 election had passed.

 “The sitting president has the option of who to nominate. The candidate will be sent to the floor of the Senate to be voted on and to participate in hearings,” said Debate teacher John Reynolds. A Supreme Court Justice has no term limit and serves on the judicial branch of the United States government. They are responsible for taking cases and providing justice under law. A position on the Supreme Court opening doesn’t happen frequently, only when a justice passes or retires. However, former president Barack Obama had a similar experience when faced with replacing a justice after Antonin Scalia passed. This resurfaced and caused conflict and disagreement between parties with regard to if Trump should wait until after the election.

“The heart of the issue is that in 2016, the Senate requested there be no hearing until a new president was elected, and Obama complied with that,” said Reynolds. “It now looks hypocritical for the republicans controlling the Senate” to agree to letting Trump nominate Amy Coney Barrett. People across America have spoken their opinions on this matter. A particularly vocal group has been Rhodes alumnus.

“My understanding is that Rhodes alumni sent a letter to the college in opposition of Amy Coney Barrett,” said Reyonlds. “They claim she does not represent the values of Rhodes College.” Rhodes College is a liberal arts college located in Memphis, TN, that Barrett attended and graduated from. The President Marjorie Haas sent a letter in response to the alums.

“Many students have written to me over the past days,” wrote Haas. “At Rhodes, we value critical thought, resonated debate, and the development of personal values, and the ability to engage across differences.” Haas outlined that Rhodes prepares free thinkers and “the Rhodes connection to the Supreme Court is a source of institutional pride.” President Haas’s response received both backlash and support.

“She is a model of what you can do with a Rhodes education, and she is super smart,” claims one of Reynold’s friends. “I am still in contact with her.” She was known to be accomplished and had an exceptional record of academic achievement while at Rhodes. People are digging out their old yearbooks and choosing to remember the good things about their classmate, even if their beliefs differ from hers. “It is very rare we get these personal connections, so even when there is polarization, use your network and go places,” said Reynolds.