What Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court Nomination Means for Women

To understand the role Trump’s pick will play, you have to understand how right-wing women wield power

Jill Filipovic
Published in
8 min readSep 26, 2020


Amy Coney Barrett
Image: C-SPAN

Tomorrow afternoon, President Donald Trump is set to announce his Supreme Court pick: Amy Coney Barrett. If she is confirmed, Barrett will fill the seat of storied justice, legal scholar, and women’s rights pioneer Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died earlier this month at the age of 87. Unlike Ginsburg, who dedicated much of her career to furthering the very basic goal of gender equality, Barrett is a typical right-wing woman — someone who undermines feminism, even when she herself has benefited from it.

There’s no doubt that the GOP will trumpet the fact that Barrett is a woman and try to use her gender to bulldoze over feminist concerns: “How can you say she’s anti-woman? She’s a woman.” But as much as feminism is, of course, a woman-led and woman-centered movement, conservative women have also always been on the frontlines of the fight against feminism. And they have often succeeded in blocking or delaying progress for women writ large.

That is likely the role Barrett, who has only been a judge for three scant years, will play on the court. She has already ruled on abortion rights, both times in favor of restricting abortion access. She allegedly said in a speech that she believes life begins at conception, a common refrain from opponents of legal abortion. And she has said that requiring health insurance policies to cover contraception violates religious liberty.

There is little question that appointing Barrett to the Court would spell the end of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide. But invalidating Roe would likely mean invalidating the entire legal concept of a right to sexual privacy, which would put Supreme Court decisions at risk that go far beyond abortion, including those that legalized contraception, same-sex marriage, and consensual intercourse between adults of the same sex…