Amy Coney Barrett's Nomination Energizes Democratic Women's Groups, Boosts Fundraising and Planned Marches

Amy Coney Barrett is just the fifth woman to ever be nominated to the Supreme Court, but not all women's groups are celebrating.

Planned Parenthood called her possible appointment to the high court an insult to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's legacy of fighting against gender discrimination. The National Organization for Women has said that Barrett, if confirmed, will "turn back the clock on equality."

Emily's List, the political action committee that aims to elect Democratic female candidates in favor of abortion rights, echoed the view that Barrett's nomination is a threat to women's rights.

"This is a pick that will endanger important rights that people support and that we currently have such as reproductive freedom, the protections provided in the Affordable Care Act as well as a variety of others," said Christina Reynolds, the group's vice president for communications.

President Donald Trump announced Saturday he was nominating Barrett to fill the seat vacated by Ginsburg, who died on September 18 due to complications surrounding metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Barrett is a former Notre Dame law professor and current judge on the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Her confirmation would cement a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the court, stoking concern about the future of the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade.

At issue for many women's groups is Barrett's judicial record on reproductive rights and health care. In two abortion-related cases Barrett heard as a judge on the appeals court, she ruled that the law does allow restrictions on the procedure. She's also voiced opposition for the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate, calling it a "grave violation of religious freedom."

Barrett, a devout Roman Catholic, has also been scrutinized for her ties to the small Christian group People of Praise. Former members of the group told the Associated Press that People of Praise "teaches that wives must submit to the will of their husbands." Barrett herself has never commented on the matter.

Leaders at Republican Women for Progress, a grassroots policy organization, said they are thrilled to see a woman be elevated to such an important government position but expressed concern over Barrett's "troubling statements" on LGBTQ issues, a woman's right to choose and other matters of equality.

"The biggest issue right now is the blatant hypocrisy coming out of the Republican Party compared to what they did and said in 2016," said co-founder Meghan Milloy.

When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, Republicans in Congress blocked the confirmation of President Barack Obama's pick to fill the vacancy. They argued at the time that since it was an election year, the American people should have a say in the court's direction.

Polls have found a majority of Americans think the same rule should be applied this year, but the party is forging ahead with a nomination just weeks before Election Day—a move will only further erode public trust in the federal government, Republican Women for Progress said.

"I can't think of a single more important thing right now than to reassure the American public that their voices matter," said Ariel Hill-Davis, the policy director at Republican Women for Progress, "so to ram through another confirmation this close to an election feels like it's really dangerous right now."

Republicans have argued that appointing another Trump justice to the Supreme Court will energize their base of conservative voters. Vice President Mike Pence is pledging "four more years means more judges" out on the campaign trail. But Milloy and Hill-Davis said the vacancy will likely do more for the Democratic Party.

ActBlue, a liberal fundraising platform, announced that in the day after Ginsburg's death they received more than $91 million in contributions. Emily's List, which is helping dozens of candidates run for federal office this election cycle, said the nomination has impacted campaigns.

"This is going to remind voters of what's at stake and that the Trump administration is standing on the other side of voters on the issues," said Reynolds. "I think it will certainly energize Democrats and galvanize them to come out, to make sure their voice is heard."

amy coney barrett nomination ceremony
President Donald Trump speaks next to Judge Amy Coney Barrett at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., on September 26, 2020. Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who was nominated Saturday to the Supreme Court, has been criticized by women's groups for her past rulings on reproductive rights. Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

The Women's March is planning a nationwide protest on October 17 in opposition of Trump's move to fill the Supreme Court vacancy before the election. Socially-distant demonstrations are planned in more than 30 cities, including Washington D.C.

"This is something that people are willing to get in the streets and fight for," said Rachel O'Leary Carmona, executive director of Women's March.

Carmona said the group is not considering Barrett's credentials because the situation is not legitimate.

"Our take on it is that it really doesn't matter who the nominee is, the Senate really should not consider any nominee to replace Justice Ginsburg until after the inauguration," she said. "We are in an election. People are casting their ballots right now and some have already voted. It's rushed and it's blatantly partisan. It's another disgrace and affront to our democracy and our democratic process."

Many pro-life organizations, on the other hand, have greeted Barrett's nomination with support. Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion law firm and advocacy group, was the first national pro-life group to publicly call for her nomination following the death of Justice Ginsburg and is "delighted" Trump selected her to be on the court.

"She is a committed textualist who cares much more about what the Constitution was intended to mean than what the court or commentators have said that it has come to mean over the years," said Steven Aden, the chief legal officer and general counsel at Americans United for Life.

"For what we do as a pro-life organization, her views and her record are stellar," he said.