Right-wing media want the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to get personal. No one has to play along.
Any right-wing nominee would have huge implications for the country
In an effort to help President Donald Trump craft a Supreme Court that will ensure his reelection in case of any disputes and dismantle progressive law, right-wing media are defending the possible nomination of Amy Coney Barrett by framing any criticism against her judicial record as a personal attack on her faith. But during their coverage of Barrett's judicial record, mainstream outlets must not fall into the trap of adopting this framing and should focus on Trump's extremism and the promises he's made to destroy progressive policies and institutions.
On September 25, news leaked that Trump would nominate Amy Coney Barrett as the next justice to the Supreme Court. Before Trump even nominated Barrett, right-wing media began spinning that Democrats opposing Barrett would attack her faith and personal views. This resulted in hand-wringing from other outlets and some media figures expressed concern about an attack that was happening largely in the minds of right-wing media. Right-wing media laid the groundwork to frontload this narrative because it’s simplistic and easy for them to win. It appears already to be working -- as soon as news broke about Barrett’s nomination, CNN were already legitimizing right-wing media’s strategy by bringing up alleged personal attacks by Democrats against Barrett. Other news outlets have an obligation not to follow this pattern.
Barrett will be in lockstep with right-wing ideology because that's who Trump and other Republicans have assured us they will nominate. As MSNBC host Chris Hayes said:
Outlets should instead focus on the real issues that voters care about and that Trump has telegraphed his new court would dismantle -- such as the Affordable Care Act and legal abortion access through Roe v. Wade.
For example, as Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern explained, “Barrett’s confirmation would heighten the odds that the Supreme Court will eradicate the entire Affordable Care Act in 2021, stripping health insurance from more than 20 million people.” It is a likely scenario considering Barrett’s views on the 2012 Supreme Court decision that upheld core parts of the statute and Trump’s knee-jerk opposition to anything related to former President Barack Obama.
Barrett will also likely rule on many or all of the 17 cases currently one step away from the Supreme Court, including laws related to unconstitutional bans on abortion that would completely undo Roe. Trump promised to nominate justices to the court that are dedicated to overturning Roe. Barrett has already ruled against abortion access in two cases as a federal judge and her appointment will give Trump enough votes to overturn Roe and end legal abortion access in many states -- putting it out of reach for many, particularly low-income communities.
Just as Trump wanted, his nominee will impact the health and safety of all Americans in a myriad of ways for years to come -- outlets should sit up and take notice, and not let right-wing media dictate disingenuous terms for such an important conversation.