Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Students' thoughts on RBG's replacement, Knake comments

November 11, 2020
An image of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Illustration by Daena Faustino).
An image of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Illustration by Daena Faustino). —

When Amy Coney Barrett served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court for the first time on Oct. 27, MSU students felt either confident or conflicted about her lifetime term.

Within hours of her confirmation, MSU Trustee Renee Knake wrote an opinion piece for the New York Daily News, declaring that Barrett should not engage in any cases that are related to the election.

In the essay, she described the expectation that justices throw out, or choose not to vote, on cases in which their impartiality might be affected.

"It is reasonable to infer that, in Trump’s mind, Barrett must repay his appointment by refusing to recuse, and then by voting both to secure his election and to gut the ACA," Knake said in the essay. "And we know he will view these votes as the ultimate test of her loyalty."

Barrett's rushed confirmation was a point of contention for many, some angry she was confirmed before the election, others in support of her being added to the court.

Electrical engineering junior Ronald Hodge said he thinks Barrett deserves her new position. 

“I think that she is definitely a good person for the job,” Hodge said. “I don’t exactly agree all the way with the way it actually went through, but I think she’s well qualified and definitely should be considered for the position.”

He agrees with her stance on the Constitution because he has an originalist point of view, meaning he thinks the Constitution should be interpreted in the way it was written by the Founding Fathers but understands that some judges don’t use that interpretation.

“I think that is a really important thing for a lot of judges to consider,” Hodge said. “For her, she really focuses on making sure that she’s not the one really interpreting and putting her own opinion on the cases that she’s doing. She’s trying to go as much as she possibly can off of the letter of the law and the Constitution.”

However, Lyman Briggs freshman Zaaki Mandwee is fearful of this stance, especially with the 6:3 ratio of conservative to liberal justices.

“(The conservative justices) are going to try and read the law and the Constitution as it was interpreted 200 years ago, which of course doesn’t make sense,” Mandwee said. “We are living in a modern 21st-century society and we need to interpret the Constitution and the laws in the way and how it pertains to our lives today. It’s completely nonsense.”

 Mandwee thinks Barrett’s role on the Supreme Court might affect him in the future.

“Possibly in the future of health care is a big issue,” Mandwee said. “Of course it would affect me personally.”

Jordan Hofbauer, also a Lyman Briggs freshman, disagrees with the way judges serve a life term on the court. He is concerned about Barrett’s religious views.

“I don’t really like a lot of the things she stands for,” Hofbauer said. “She doesn’t seem to separate religion from personal beliefs, and for me, being not a religious person, I don’t really think that kind of person should be one of the main figureheads of our country.”

He thinks some of Barrett’s decisions might impact the women in his life, especially if the conservative justices were to move to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“I would be upset because they eliminated the power of choice,” Hofbauer said. “It shouldn’t be up to the government to decide what they can and can’t do with their bodies and how they should take care of themselves.”

Psychology freshman Muskaan Multani says this might pose a problem for her in the future.

“I think (it’s important to have) access to healthcare in the future if I need it, or Planned Parenthood,” Multani said. “Just for the resources they provide, that could be helpful. It’s not just abortions, it’s so many other resources.”

She also wishes the decision to place Barrett took place after the election, to respect previous associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s wishes.

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Her biggest concerns are if Barrett’s role influences the court to overturn cases. 

“She’s just attacking women and minority groups,” Multani said. “I’m worried that if anything gets overturned, then people will start to be treated differently because there will be like a loss of respect, almost.”

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