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  • Writer's pictureDean Dwyer

Judging Amy

As most of you are aware, President Donald Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett to a position on the Supreme Court in the United States judicial system. The Supreme Court consists of nine Justices and when they are appointed, it is a lifetime appointment. That is why both Republicans and Democrats relish the opportunity to put forward new nominees when a spot becomes vacant – an appointment lasts a generation and those appointed have the ability (whether liberal or conservative) to shape the cultural direction of the nation for that generation. It is likely that whoever wins the Presidency will have at least one more appointment given that the oldest serving Justice (Stephen Breyer) is now 82.

Following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (who had leftist views), the political leanings of the remaining eight Justices is five conservatives and three liberals, although, John Roberts (65) who heads the Supreme Court as Chief Justice, has slowly drifted towards the left over the past few years. That is why the next appointment is crucial and why the Republicans are so keen to see Amy Coney Barrett appointed prior to the election on November 3. If her appointment is ratified, the ratio of conservatives to liberals will be two to one, thereby ensuring a conservative Supreme Court for some years.

Of course, the Democrats aren’t going to let this go without a fight. Many have suggested that the appointment needs to wait until after the results of the election are known as they believe it should be the mandate of the incoming President to decide who is put forward. However, due to the high volume of mail-in ballots at this election, along with the ever-growing concern around voter fraud, the outcome of the election may not be known for weeks after the election date, maybe months if a recount and Supreme Court decision is required, as was the case with the Bush/Gore contest of 2000.

So far as Amy is concerned, many Democrats are opposing her appointment based on her beliefs. One of the main gripes of the Democrats and media is that Amy belongs to a group called “People of Praise”. In general, they seem bent on making the group sound like a secretive, dangerous and woman-oppressing cult poised to have its patriarchal values entrenched on the Supreme Court. So, who is this group “People of Praise” and what do they stand for?

Well, let’s go to the source – the people themselves. On their website, they describe themselves as follows: People of Praise is a charismatic Christian community. We admire the first Christians who were led by the Holy Spirit to form a community. Those early believers put their lives and their possessions in common and “there were no needy persons among them.”

What work do they do? Again, according to their website: In 2002, inspired by the Holy Spirit, People of Praise members began moving into some of America’s poorest neighbourhoods. Since then, we have lived closely with our neighbours and worked together to help meet pressing neighbourhood needs. Our efforts include running summer camps for hundreds of children, repairing neighbourhood homes, hosting prayer meetings, growing healthy food on an urban farm and establishing a private elementary school. Longtime local residents have credited these efforts with lowering the crime rate and making the neighbourhoods more beautiful and peaceful places to live.

Is People of Praise a church? No. According to their website:- The People of Praise is a Christian community whose members come from more than 15 different Christian denominations and churches. We aim to share our daily lives together in community while also remaining faithful and active members of our own particular churches and denominations. Community members attend services at a variety of Christian churches where the majority of congregants are not members of the People of Praise. Typically, we hold our community meetings on Sunday afternoons, leaving community members free to be full and active members of their parishes and congregations.

They describe themselves as charismatic. What does that include? Unfortunately, like most charismatics, it means they believe they can speak in tongues and bring physical healing. On their website it reads: Our particular moment in this larger story began in the late 1960’s, when students and faculty at the University of Notre Dame began to experience a renewal of Christian enthusiasm and fervour, together with charismatic gifts such as speaking in tongues and physical healing, as described in the New Testament book of Acts.

Essentially Amy belongs to a group that would be best described as Charismatic Catholics. They often practice forms of Pentecostalism that embrace the belief that individuals can receive gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Gladly, aside from the differences we clearly hold in relation to practices within our faith, it appears as though Amy is a follower of Jesus Christ and a strong opponent of abortion and believes (as we do) that life begins at conception and every human being should have the right to live their life through to natural death (ie. it is clear she also opposes euthanasia laws). Of course, the media and Democrats will continue to viciously attack Amy over her beliefs until she is either confirmed or denied a position on the Supreme Court bench. Ultimately, the confirmation hearings will be bruising and I am sure Amy will remain articulate and poised as she has done over the course of her legal career. Whether or not she receives the appointment, it is pleasing to see a person who remains steadfast in their convictions, even in spite of efforts by politicians and media personalities alike to malign them for their faith.

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