Analysis & Comment

Opinion | Amy Coney Barrett on the Court: What’s at Stake

To the Editor:

Re “A Koch Brother’s Big Bet on Judge Barrett,” by Christopher Leonard (Op-Ed, Oct. 13):

While the public seems to be focused on the effect Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court might have on Roe v. Wade or the Affordable Care Act, Charles Koch is focused elsewhere. He is apparently investing in her confirmation in the hope that her addition to the court will nail in the conservative majority to roll back regulations affecting business.

According to Mr. Leonard, Mr. Koch is looking for a court like the one during the “Lochner era” (1890s to 1937). The conservative court then blocked state and federal attempts to regulate business. The market was wildly free until the free fall of 1929.

I’d like to remind Mr. Koch and other “unfettered free market” capitalists that we don’t have a Franklin Delano Roosevelt today who can ride in to save the market should it go into free fall once again.

John Wise
Guerneville, Calif.

To the Editor:

Trustworthy people tell us that Amy Coney Barrett is smart and nice, as if that decides the question whether she should be made a Supreme Court justice. But the court has had plenty of smart, nice members who were terrible justices, just as there have been great justices who were neither. What the Supreme Court requires is good judgment and a sense of justice, neither of which is particularly correlated to being loved by friends or to loving one’s family.

We don’t know much about Judge Barrett’s judgment or sense of justice, and she did her best at her confirmation hearings to keep it that way. What we do know is that she has been aggressively promoted by radical movement conservatives and that she was chosen by a president who has dedicated himself to putting such conservatives on the court.

To think she is anything other than a radical movement conservative assumes that the people who have promoted her are incompetent in advancing their agenda. And whatever one may think of them or their agenda, they have been anything but incompetent in advancing it.

Can we at least stop pretending that there’s any question about what she’ll do on the court?

Larry Kramer
San Francisco
The writer is president of the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation and former dean of Stanford Law School.

To the Editor:

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, in her testimony before the Judiciary Committee, argued that her strongly held personal religious opinions as a private person should be disregarded when predicting her professional performance as a judge. She contended that she can separate her personal life from her professional life.

But judges whose opinions Judge Barrett admires have held that it is an unconstitutional invasion of religious freedom to require that bakers put aside their personal religious opinions by making their baked goods available to all.

If a judge can do that, without compromising her religious beliefs, why can’t a baker?

Malcolm M. Gaynor
Chicago

To the Editor:

Re “Issues Raised by the Barrett Hearings” (letters, Oct. 15):

During the Samuel Alito confirmation hearings, we could barely hear ourselves think for the weeping and wailing over the certain death of Roe v. Wade. That was almost 15 years ago. The law is still on the books.

And so it is every time a conservative judge is up for confirmation to the Supreme Court. Supporters of Roe v. Wade conjure all manner of dark forces arrayed against them, yet the law stands.

The truth must be as Judge Amy Coney Barrett has stated with great clarity over these last few days. Judges do not legislate; they hear cases, with an open mind and a willingness to be persuaded, while observing the strict rules of legal procedure to which they have dedicated their lives.

Margaret McGirr
Greenwich, Conn.

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