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Opinion: History suggests Barrett won't help Trump with women

October 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Amy Coney Barrett's likely confirmation as Ruth Bader Ginsburg's successor shows the political tension between representation and feminism, says Laura Beers, who notes that historical precedents suggest President Donald Trump's gambit to win women voters with her nomination won't work.

President Donald Trump's immediate public commitment to appoint a woman to replace Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, and his subsequent nomination of Barrett were intended, one presumes, to demonstrate that he too supports increasing female representation and that, therefore, women who consider themselves feminists can support Donald Trump.

In her remarks in the Rose Garden following Trump's announcement of her nomination, Barrett noted with terse applause that "Justice Ginsburg began her career at a time when women were not welcome in the legal profession.

Feminism -- in marked contrast with the legal vision mapped out by many of Barrett's writings and public statements on issues like health care and sexual assault -- is about promoting women's equality across the social and political spectrum.

But, for those who admired the "Notorious RBG" as a feminist icon, the two are inextricably intertwined, and many women's rights activists have refused to look with favor on the woman likely to be confirmed as the Supreme Court's fifth female justice.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar summed up the feminist position: "To the women of America, we have come so far, and in the name of RBG, we should not go backward" by confirming Barrett.

While Trump cannot change his own gender, he can hope to win favor with female voters by nominating a woman to the court, just as Joe Biden arguably publicly declared his commitment to choose a female running mate in part to shore up support from women voters.

Yet, history shows that women do not judge female politicians -- nor, presumably, female justices -- by their gender alone, and there is little reason to believe that Barrett's nomination will be received differently by women voters simply because she is a woman.

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