1,513 alumni of Rhodes College in Nashville, Tennessee signed a letter opposing Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. As you probably guessed, it’s about abortion. Past nominations of conservative judges also brought out the same vitriol so this is now expected behavior.
Amy Coney Barrett graduated magna cum laude in 1994, was a member of the Honor Council, and named to the Student Hall of Fame. Rhodes College is a small private liberal arts college historically affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. The student population is about 2,000. The Princeton Review reports that the college is “academically very strong” and “unparalleled, especially in the sciences”. Before the president formally nominated ACB, Rhodes President Marjorie Hass released a glowing statement supporting her inclusion as a possible nominee on September 22. Former Supreme Court justice Abe Fortas was also a graduate of Rhodes College.
It is remarkable that a Rhodes graduate should appear at the top of a list of potential Supreme Court nominees, but it is in keeping with a long history of Rhodes connections to the highest court in the land. Alumnus Abe Fortas ’30 became a Supreme Court justice. Rhodes graduates have clerked for Justices and serve as federal judges. Rhodes has hosted both Justice Stephen Breyer and the late Justice Antonin Scalia on our campus. Our mock trial team is among the very best—in many years, the best—in the country. Judge Coney Barrett participates in this tradition of academic excellence. As a member of the Rhodes College Class of 1994, she graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts in English. While at Rhodes, she was elected to the Honor Council and to the Student Hall of Fame. She has gone on to a career of professional distinction and achievement.
After acknowledging the politicization of the nomination process, she wrote of the “widely divergent” perspectives of the students and alums writing to her with opinions about ACB’s possible nomination. That is what the college experience is supposed to be about, right? Before it became clear in recent years that there is little room for conservative thought on college campuses, one of the main purposes of a college education was to teach students to hear opposing views and form their own opinions about a wide range of topics. So, now that conservative thought and speakers are regularly shut out on college campuses, it is not surprising that when conservatives are nominated to the Supreme Court, liberal former classmates let it be known that they disapprove. As with the last two nominees put forward by President Trump, Amy Coney Barrett finds herself in the same position of being the target of the liberal opposition, especially for her pro-life history. It always boils down to abortion with the left.
Rhodes alumni Rob Marus and Katherine Morgan Breslin wrote a letter criticizing ACB’s pro-life beliefs. Posted online, it states that they are “firmly and passionately opposed to her nomination” because she fails to represent their views and values.
“We are likewise firmly and passionately opposed to Rhodes administrators’ attempts to embrace Amy Coney Barrett as an alumna of our beloved alma mater,” the letter said. “We oppose this embrace because we believe both her record and the process that has produced her nomination are diametrically opposed to the values of truth, loyalty, and service that we learned at Rhodes.”
Barrett’s abortion views are a particular point of contention. Barrett voted at least twice on abortion issues as an appellate judge, both times joining dissenting opinions to decisions that favored abortion rights.
The Rhodes alumni letter was signed by students who graduated as far back as 1959, and some who knew Barrett and were in her graduating class. It expresses concerns that she might vote to overturn or “seriously curtail” Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that declared abortion a constitutional right.
The letter accuses her of sidestepping questions about how she would rule if the abortion case were challenged before the Supreme Court. And it claims she has deflected questions about her stance toward the LGBTQ community and her alleged association with an anti-LBGTQ group.
“Amy Coney Barrett has repeatedly shaded the truth about her own views and past associations,” the letter said. It added that Barrett “has demonstrated a judicial philosophy and record that fails to serve and protect the vulnerable in our society, including immigrants, those in the criminal justice system, and individuals reliant on the Affordable Care Act.”
Funny that they blast ACB for allegedly not protecting immigrants, right? She and her husband adopted two children from Haiti. Liberals don’t want another conservative on the Supreme Court because the first big case scheduled to come before the court in the next session is one on Obamacare. With ACB, the court will be a majority conservative court.
To her credit, President Hass is standing by her praise of ACB. After the opposition posted their letter, she offered another statement. She encouraged “all members of the Rhodes community to rise to this moment with courage and to speak, act, and vote in the service of justice.”
“I hope that your letter – as well as the support, dissent, and attention it has generated – serves as a spur for robust engagement with the political process,” Hass wrote. She stood by her previous letter and public remarks praising Barrett’s “exceptional record of academic achievement” at Rhodes.
“The college will continue to speak of her with respect and friendship,” Hass wrote. Later, she added, she was “happy to re-affirm my own commitment and the commitment of the college to stand against bigotry and for the rights of minority and marginalized students and alumni.”
That’s a good lesson for current students – don’t bend a knee to the angry mob. They are never satisfied. Standing up for personal beliefs is the right of every American, conservatives included.