Not a Woman Judge, But a Lady Judge

Photograph Source: D. Gordon E. Robertson – CC BY 2.0

God almighty made the woman and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies.”

—Mother Jones

Despite her essential conservatism, I guess I understand why so many US residents are lamenting the death of Justice Ginsburg and demanding the Senate not confirm whomever Trump’s choice is. Arguably, this focus on the Supreme Court seat is a distraction from the greater issues the country is facing; even more than the upcoming election. In my experience and understanding, it seems more important for people who still think the US political system works for the regular people to change the nature of the legislature than to focus so much energy on the Court.

After all, the court is inherently conservative and occasionally just plain reactionary. It can’t be otherwise, given its role in defining a constitution and subsequent laws that put property rights above all other rights. On occasion, it has done something positive–Brown vs. Kansas Board of Ed. comes to mind. However, decisions like the Dred Scott decision, Plessy v. Ferguson and Citizen’s United are more representative of its mindset and role in what some claim to be a system of checks and balances.

Naturally, I do not want to see any more right-wing jurists sitting on the nation’s highest court. The preponderance of justices there who seem willing to grant the president absolute power is frightful, even for those who do believe that checks and balances exist between the three branches of political power in the United States. Adding another member with right-wing politics to the bench is akin to surrendering the arbiter of the nation’s laws to forces barely different from the John Birch Society. In a way, it’s like letting cops on the street serve as judge and executioner (which obviously is already too often the case). In other words, it makes a mockery of any concept of fairness under the law.

Although it is unclear exactly how much Trump’s nominee Amy Barrett adheres to the concept of a unitary executive branch, it is her religious practices which are coming under fire. Specifically, it is her membership in a group known as the People of Praise. This group came into being during the 1970s when numerous congregations, including the Catholic Church, were searching for ways to reach young people turning away from organized religion. This was best represented inside the US Catholic Church by what is known as the charismatic movement. I knew at least one Jesuit who turned to this form of worship in 1973 after deciding the Jesuitical approach was too intellectual and not joyful enough. In short, members of this movement hoped to experience their religion in what is best termed as an ecstatic experience. Transcendent and often with sexual undertones, charismatic services featured people speaking in tongues, singing and shouting praise to Jesus and physical manifestations like rolling on the floor and dancing. Similar manifestations can be found in virtually every spiritual tradition; from whirling dervishes in Sufi Islam to numerous versions of ecstatic practice in Christianity that also involve speaking in tongues and even handling poisonous snakes. There are also various ecstatic celebrations in Hindu practice, Buddhism and even Judaism. These are just some examples. They are valid manifestations of human relationships with the spiritual.

It is some of the other elements of Barrett’s faith that raises eyebrows. Like so many fundamentalist Christian sects, People of Praise interpret the Bible—the words of their god—in a manner that champions male supremacy and opposes homosexuality and transgenderism. Although the group was formed among Catholics, it welcomes members from many Christian denominations. Her membership in it is a private expression of faith and doesn’t seem to be objectionable if it remained private. It is Barrett’s apparent collegial relationship with another group—the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)—that is a greater cause for concern. This openly political group’s agenda is to set what they call a Christian interpretation of the US Constitution as the standard in the United States. While this could be a good thing if their definition of Christian was as revolutionary as the Jesus who threw the moneychangers out of the Temple, the fact is their interpretations tends toward the exact opposite. Religions always seem to enable the wealthy, powerful and reactionary more than the radical, poor and powerless. That’s the nature of its game.

In other words, their version of Christianity is reactionary. It opposes women’s right to choose, LBGT rights, and in many cases, the essential nature of the First Amendment’s freedom of religion clause. Like the even more extreme Dominionists, the ADF’s ideal government would be a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. Although some of the primary lessons of the New Testament decry the hypocrisy and greed of the rich, the preaching from all too many of the so-called Christian pulpits in the United States teach that wealth and greed are synonymous with holiness and their god’s blessing. When the remaining Koch brother dumps his millions and his organization into ensuring reactionary justices like Barrett get a seat on the highest court of the land, one can bet their house that his reasons are not of the spiritual kind.

At this point in time, it seems fairly certain Barrett will be the next Supreme Court justice. What she does with that appointment will probably become quite clear rather quickly—perhaps even before inauguration day if the Trumpist plan to throw the presidential election to the Supreme Court works out. I don’t expect any surprises. But for those who disagree with her and still pray, now would be the time to get to work doing so.


Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: