“Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue,” is a quote from the Torah. The phrase hung on the wall in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s chambers, and it inspired her judicial deliberations. To honor her legacy and all that she stood for in her work, we cannot confirm Amy Coney Barrett before the next presidential inauguration.
As a woman of faith and a pastor, I believe Barrett is the wrong choice for America’s Supreme Court. Her conservative ideology will not hold up when it is time to dismantle hierarchies, ensure the health and safety of the American people, and break down tribalism. Barrett does not care about health and wholeness for all, nor will she support the inherent dignity of all people.
Christian teaching, along with Judaism and other faiths, highlights the equality of humanity under the love of God. One sexual orientation or one gender identity is not greater than or less than another. One race or ethnicity is not worth more than another. Undoubtedly, the Supreme Court will be cemented in a conservative majority if Barrett is confirmed. This event puts at risk the Affordable Care Act, which has enabled millions of Americans to receive the care they need and deserve. Health care, after all, is a human right, not a luxury reserved for the ultra-rich.
Further, while Roe v. Wade was ruled more than 40 years ago, we cannot trust a conservative court to avoid political theater around such an overly politicized issue like abortion. The fundamental right for a pregnant person to choose the best course for their life cannot be threatened.
When someone considering an abortion, which is safe and legal health care, comes to me as their pastor, I tell them their decision is based on their own needs and the counsel of their doctor, and that God loves them no matter what they decide. We often pray for discernment and consider all options while taking into account the health and well-being of the pregnant patient as well as the fetus. These conversations can be difficult. This is not an either/or situation. There are many perspectives and considerations. It is not the job of Barrett, or any judge for that matter, to weigh in on a patient’s path toward health and wholeness.
“We must take a stand for greater dignity and for the common good of all people.”
Appointing Barrett to the Supreme Court will only heighten what has become unmitigated political tribalism in our supposed United States. Her extremist interpretations of the Constitution will further limit our ability to engage civil discourse. We must take a stand for greater dignity and for the common good of all people. Barrett threatens the inherent rights and well-being of so many Americans. We simply cannot move forward with her nomination.
Critics may challenge me for speaking up, as a pastor, on matters of state. Should not religious leaders stick to the sanctuary or temple? I am called to speak out on civic matters not in spite of my faith, but because of it. To stay silent when conviction calls does a disservice to the people in my congregation and my community.
“I am called to speak out on civic matters not in spite of my faith, but because of it.”
With love as our motivation and justice our aim, faith leaders must remind leaders that their actions have consequences. And the consequences of installing Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court will be grave.
Honor Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish that she not be replaced until the winner of the 2020 election is sworn in. Tell your senators not to confirm Barrett. In doing so, you will honor Justice Ginsburg’s legacy; you will preserve the dignity of women’s health, you will say enough with political tribalism, and you will celebrate that all are equal in God’s eyes.
Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, you do not get to undermine the American people by ramrodding your candidate through this election season. We will not have it. Amy Coney Barrett does not belong on the Supreme Court.
Lauren Jones Mayfield serves as associate pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.