The Ivy Lining In Appointing Amy Coney Barrett To The United States Supreme Court
Less than a week ago, Senate Republicans were displaying a great deal of optimism about successfully confirming President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. However, the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. senate may lead to a delay in the confirmation process. Last week, Senator Mike Lee and Senator Thom Tilis both tested positive for COVID-19. However, Senator Ted Cruz is very confident that the senate will confirm Barrett to the Supreme Court before the election. If Republicans are successful in muscling through the appointment of Amy Coney Barret to the United States Supreme Court, she will only be the fourth associate justice of the United States to have not attended an Ivy league law school in the last five decades.
Amy Coney Barret will be filling in the seat of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who received her law degree from Columbia law school. Currently, of the eight justices serving on the United States Supreme Court, four attended the prestigious Yale Law School, and four attended Harvard Law School, including the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Roberts Jr. The dominance of Ivy league graduates on the Supreme Court of the United States has morphed the Court in to a bastion of Ivy League law school graduates.
Amy Coney Barrett, unlike other associate justices of the United States Supreme Court, did not attend an Ivy league law school. Barret received her undergraduate degree from Rhode Island College, and attained her law degree from the University of Notre Dame, where she later served as a law professor. Barrett, if appointed, will be the only non-Ivy leaguer currently serving on the United States’ Supreme Court. Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court will make an important statement that the Supreme Court is not an all-Ivy league exclusive club. It would also serve as a way to diversify the reading and interpretation of the constitution in the nation’s highest court.
Any individual aspiring to serve on the United States’ Supreme Court may feel that their chances on successfully accomplishing their aspiration hinges on getting a law degree from an Ivy League School. However, getting in to a very selective Ivy league law school is not only a task that demands a high academic merit, but can be a very costly endeavor as well. The tuition for Harvard and Yale law school is more than sixty thousand dollars per year. Around fifty-three percent of the law students at Yale and around forty-three percent of Harvard law students receive some amount of grants from the law school. Considering the high cost of attendance, and the low number of grants given to law students depicts that not everyone can afford to attend these Ivy league law schools. A Barrett appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States will dispel the notion that attending a costly Ivy league school is a prerequisite for serving on the Supreme Court.
Other than being a trailblazer for non-Ivy league law school graduates, Barrett’s appointment may broaden the intellectual diversity of the Supreme Court. The legal training that Barrett received at the University of Notre Dame is likely to be different from the one given at an Ivy League law school. Enabling Barrett to serve on the Supreme Court may lead to broadening the scope of intellectual scholarship with which the constitution is interpreted.
The life experience of individuals who attend Ivy Leagues schools are not necessarily in sync with the experiences of the average American. Therefore, it is important to have individuals on the Supreme Court that have distinct experiences than their colleagues more in line with the experiences of the average American.
While individuals may have differences on the views that Amy Coney Barrett holds on certain issues, there should be unanimous agreement that her appointment on the Supreme Court will dwindle the Ivy League dominance of the Court.
The author is a graduate student of U.S. Foreign policy at The George Washington University.