Now that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has announced his retirement, concern looms over who President Donald Trump will nominate to replace him.
According to Haaretz, Trump has met with seven potential candidates and plans to announce his choice on Monday, with Judge Amy Coney Barrett being speculated as one of the top contenders.
Barrett has drawn some criticism, however, for her affiliation with a religious group called People of Praise, which has been considered a cult by some.
The 46-year-old mother of seven would be the youngest justice on the Supreme Court, which means she would technically have many years of influence over the high court with decades to serve before retiring. Therefore, her track record is critical to how she will likely conduct herself as a Supreme Court justice.
Her experience as a former law clerk to late Justice Antonin Scalia likely makes her appealing to far-right conservatives. However, last fall during her confirmation hearing to become an appellate court judge, the Democrats grilled Barrett about her strong Roman Catholic faith and the potential for it to conflict with her work as a judge.
For example, they cited a 1998 paper that Barrett wrote in which she insisted that Catholic judges may need to recuse themselves in cases involving the death penalty.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) told Barrett that she was concerned “that the dogma lives loudly within you” as she emphasized that Barrett would need to be able to draw a line between faith and law.
Although her membership in People of Praise did not come up in her confirmation hearing, a 2017 profile on Barrett published by The New York Times revealed some alarming details about the organization that made it sound like a cult, without actually using the word to describe it.
"People of Praise members are said to be accountable to a same-sex adviser, called a 'head' for men and (until recently) a 'handmaiden' for women, who gives input on a wide variety of personal decisions. They swear 'a lifelong oath of loyalty' to the group,” wrote Ruth Graham for Slate.
Despite her questionable views expressed in the 1998 paper, Barrett was confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago after assuring senators that her views have expanded over the years. She noted that it was never permitted for a judge to “follow their personal convictions in the decision of a case, rather than what the law requires.”
While it is still unconfirmed whether People of Praise is actually a cult, one thing that is clear from Barrett's affiliation with the group and her ardent Catholic religious beliefs is that if she does end up replacing Kennedy, we can almost certainly kiss Roe V. Wade good-bye.
Banner / Thumbnail : University of Notre Dame / Handout via REUTERS