President Trump has said he will announce his nominee for Supreme Court justice on Monday, July 9. His pick, if confirmed, would replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, a key swing vote on the court who will be retiring. Court watchers are specifically checking out contenders' positions on abortion rights, and their stances could change reproductive rights in a massive way. The two frontrunners for the nomination are Brett Kavanaugh, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court, and Amy Coney Barrett, a relatively new judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, reports CBS News.
Kavanaugh is seen as having more support from the establishment, while Barrett appeals to Trump's grassroots base. Kavanaugh has said in the past he considered Roe v. Wade to be settled law, but Barrett's position isn't as clear.
How Barrett Has Stood on Faith and Abortion
Barrett has only been on the circuit court bench for less than a year, so experts mainly have her academic scholarship to pore over, rather than her judicial record. The judge, who is Catholic, has had a history of conservative stances on reproductive rights, as seen in her writing.
SCOTUSblog notes that her first law review article discussed the Catholic Church's lessons about the death penalty, writing that Catholic judges should sometimes recuse themselves in those cases. The article, which she cowrote with law professor John Garvey, called prohibitions on abortion and euthanasia "absolute" because they "take away innocent life."
WATCH: Judge Amy Coney Barrett, one of President Trump's candidates for the Supreme Court, has expressed a "certain hostility" toward Roe v. Wade. pic.twitter.com/e3dRKiSQA9July 4, 2018
The former Notre Dame law professor's Catholic faith was an issue during her confirmation hearings for the circuit court. Democrats, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, grilled her about how her faith impacts her judging. “[When] you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you," Feinstein told her. "And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.”
Barrett, who once clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia, insisted that her personal opinions would have "no bearing" on her decisions as a judge. The debate didn't affect her confirmation, and Politico notes some conservatives say the testy exchange actually propelled her further up the list for Supreme Court consideration. Plus, Barrett is a woman, a mother of seven, in her mid-40s, and a person of faith, all aspects that may appeal to Trump on an optics level, CNN adds.
Barrett herself said during her confirmation hearing, "Roe has been affirmed many times and survived many challenges in the court. And it's more than 40 years old and it's clearly binding on all courts of appeals." Reuters notes that she has previously said she personally believes life begins at conception, but also has said she doubted Roe v. Wade would be overturned.
Why Roe v. Wade Is Important Right Now
The newest justice could make a decision on abortion rights fairly quickly, Politico reports, because abortion cases are currently working their way through lower courts. And legal experts say these smaller cases could lead to a larger discussion about Roe v. Wade, and if that 1973 ruling were overturned, states could decide to make abortion illegal.
But overturning Roe would go against general public opinion. A Politico/Morning Consult poll, conducted right after Justice Kennedy's retirement announcement, found 52 percent of respondents hope a new justice protects women's abortion rights, while 29 percent hoped the justice opposed abortion rights, and 19 percent didn't know or had no opinion.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate Republican who is seen as a crucial vote, has said she wouldn't support a nominee who "would demonstrate hostility" to Roe v. Wade. She may have been referring to another potential nominee, federal appeals court judge William Pryor, who once called the Roe decision an "abomination," though his chances are slim.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has slammed both Barrett and Kavanaugh on Twitter over their abortion rights stances.
The bottom line: Judge Barrett has given every indication that she will be an activist judge on the Court. If chosen as the nominee, she will be the deciding vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and to strike down pre-existing conditions protections in the ACA. #WhatsAtStakeJuly 2, 2018
Brett Kavanaugh is a judge on the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit & on @realDonaldTrump’s pre-approved list, having passed the “litmus test” on overturning Roe v. Wade & striking down protections for ppl w/ pre-ex conditions in the ACA. Here’s #WhatsAtStake if he’s confirmed:July 3, 2018
It remains to be seen how either nomination would play out in the Senate.
Marie Claire Newsletter
Celebrity news, beauty, fashion advice, and fascinating features, delivered straight to your inbox!
Megan Friedman is the former managing editor of the Newsroom at Hearst. She's worked at NBC and Time, and is a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.
The British Royal Family Could Learn a Thing or Two from the Danish Royals
After a bitter family feud last year that played out in public (does that sound familiar?), the entire royal family of Denmark will spend Christmas together under one roof.
By Rachel Burchfield
Brigitte Macron’s Jaw Dropped When She Saw Queen Máxima of the Netherlands’ Gown at an Exhibition in Paris Last Night
Their husbands, French president Emmanuel Macron and King Willem-Alexander, were not present for this apparent girls’ night out.
By Rachel Burchfield
Rachel McAdams Pairs A Givenchy Dress With Bulgari Jewelry On the Red Carpet This Week
It was a rare red carpet appearance for the actress.
By Rachel Burchfield
36 Ways Women Still Aren't Equal to Men
It's just one of the many ways women still aren't equal to men.
By Brooke Knappenberger
How New York's First Female Governor Plans to Fight for Women If Reelected
Kathy Hochul twice came to power because men resigned amid sexual harassment scandals. Here, how she's leading differently.
By Emily Tisch Sussman
Why the 2022 Midterm Elections Are So Critical
As we blaze through a highly charged midterm election season, Swing Left Executive Director Yasmin Radjy highlights rising stars who are fighting for women’s rights.
By Tanya Benedicto Klich
Tammy Duckworth: 'I’m Mad as Hell' About the Lack of Federal Action on Gun Safety
The Illinois Senator won't let the memory of the Highland Park shooting just fade away.
By Sen. Tammy Duckworth
Roe Is Gone. We Have to Keep Fighting.
Democracy always offers a path forward even when we feel thrust into the past.
By Beth Silvers and Sarah Stewart Holland, hosts of Pantsuit Politics Podcast
The Supreme Court's Mississippi Abortion Rights Case: What to Know
The case could threaten Roe v. Wade.
By Megan DiTrolio
Sex Trafficking Victims Are Being Punished. A New Law Could Change That.
Victims of sexual abuse are quietly criminalized. Sara's Law protects kids that fight back.
By Dr. Devin J. Buckley and Erin Regan
My Family and I Live in Navajo Nation. We Don't Have Access to Clean Running Water
"They say that the United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Why are citizens still living with no access to clean water?"
By Amanda L. As Told To Rachel Epstein