Column

Trump’s Female SCOTUS Nominee Will Be Bad for Women

Nominating a female Supreme Court Justice helps the president, not women

Jessica Valenti
GEN
Published in
3 min readSep 22, 2020
Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Donald Trump announced at a North Carolina rally this week that his appointee to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be a woman — “a very talented, very brilliant woman.”

The president’s promise has nothing to do with upholding Ginsburg’s legacy as a feminist stalwart, of course, or even caring about women’s representation in positions of power. Nominating a woman to the Supreme Court is just a cynical attempt to inoculate Trump against further accusations of misogyny as the election draws closer, and to preemptively paint any Democrats who oppose Trump’s pick as hypocrites who only uphold feminist values when it suits them.

It’s the same move John McCain’s presidential campaign tried to pull in 2008 when it brought on Sarah Palin as a running mate — Republicans thought they would be able to appeal to moderate women who were disappointed that they couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton (a strategy that ultimately backfired). Conservatives called any feminist who wasn’t excited about Palin’s ascension a hypocrite.

But benefitting from feminism is not the same thing as being a feminist, and there are no guarantees that having a woman in a position of power will be good for other women.

One of the women on Trump’s short list, for example, is Amy Coney Barrett — a member of People of Praise, a Christian religious group that believes husbands should make decisions for their households. Members of the People of Praise also swear a lifetime loyalty oath to each other and are given personal advisers who, for women, used to be called “handmaids” — the inspiration for Margaret Atwood’s famous book, The Handmaid’s Tale. Barrett has also called herself “a different kind of lawyer” and has said a “legal career is but a means to an end… and that end is building the Kingdom of God.” None of this bodes well for Roe v. Wade — the Supreme Court decision that most American women will have on their mind as a new justice is appointed.

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Jessica Valenti
GEN
Writer for

Feminist author & columnist. Native NYer, pasta enthusiast.