Will Amy Coney Barrett Take Women Backward?

Among the most common charges leveled against Judge Amy Coney Barrett is that, if confirmed to the United States Supreme Court, she will “turn back the clock” on  women’s progress. Barrett, the highly successful mother of seven, is being cast as an “anti-feminist,” who will use her own “access to power and influence to pull the ladder up behind (her).”

Feminists have long claimed that sharing power with anyone other than progressive activists poses a danger to women. They accused Republicans like President George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney of waging a “War on Women.” (John McCain! )  Before President Trump’s inauguration, leaders of the Women’s March drew millions of women to protests, in part by stoking fear about how Trump administration policies would harm women. They warned that the appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court would literally cause women to “die.”

And yet, so far, dire predictions of a roll back of women’s rights simply hasn’t borne out.  To the contrary, women’s economic power has steadily climbed in recent decades; today, women dominate academia, and they routinely run for and win elected office.  Women and girls have access to every opportunity that boys and men do, and face the same challenges as their male counterparts in deciding which path is most appealing for using their time and talents. 

The Trump Administration reduced red tape and the tax burden on businesses and entrepreneurs. That didn’t harm people, but rather resulted in a blossoming of opportunity. The unemployment rate for African Americans, Hispanics, and women all reached historic lows before Coronavirus forced a worldwide economic shutdown.  Average wages that had been stagnant for decades had begun rising significantly, reducing poverty and resulting in a higher standard of living for Americans across the board. 

Some will argue that this time the warning of impending disaster for women is real:  Judge Barrett’s appointment is different and creates a truly existential crisis since she would solidify a “conservative majority” on the Supreme Court. This view improperly inflates the role of the Supreme Court (and of any one justice) in our system of government. The Supreme Court isn’t supposed to set policy, but rather to enforce the laws as written by the legislature. Justices — especially constitutionalists like Judge Barrett — ensure that all branches of government respect the limits of their power.  

Yet Americans hearing the familiar demonization of Judge Barrett, and the charge that she is an “anti-feminist” and therefore a profound threat to women, should take a harder look at what the supposed “anti-feminist” agenda actually is. They may realize that what women are supposed to fear looks a lot like actual, mainstream feminism to most.  

Those targeted by progressive feminists want women who choose to prioritize caregiving to be just as respected as those who prioritize their careers. They don’t want government standardizing all employment relationships, since they want people to have the ability to work as entrepreneurs, independent contractors, part-time workers, or as full-time employees. They want a justice system that is accountable and color blind.  They want safe communities and better educational options. They want people to know how much healthcare services cost before they get treatment. They want people to be treated fairly and as individuals, and for people to love and respect our country and its laws. 

The progressive agenda, which often uses the banner of feminism today, ignores the interests of most women, dividing Americans by race and gender, and attempting to impose one-size-fits-all government rules that limit choice for everyone. Perhaps most concerning, they seek to silence women who hold views that differ from their own.  

It isn’t Judge Barrett that women should worry about.

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