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The early morning U.S. Capitol awaiting the arrival of the flag-draped casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (AP) The early morning U.S. Capitol awaiting the arrival of the flag-draped casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (AP)

The early morning U.S. Capitol awaiting the arrival of the flag-draped casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (AP)

Noah Y. Kim
By Noah Y. Kim September 25, 2020

What social media posts get wrong about Amy Coney Barrett’s religious beliefs

If Your Time is short

• Social media posts saying that Barrett has made homophobic and racist statements are fabricated. She never said or wrote the statements. ​

A few days before Judge Amy Coney Barrett met with President Trump at the White House, posts on Facebook mischaracterized her religious convictions and claimed she has made racist and homophobic statements. 

Barrett, a Catholic conservative judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal in Chicago, is on the shortlist of names that Trump could nominate for the Supreme Court. The seat opened when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Sept. 18. 

Some claims on Facebook offered false takes on her record.

"Amy Barret said gays have a right to be discriminated against because they are against Gods wishes and won't be allowed. Heaven," one Facebook user wrote, misspelling her last name and omitting punctuation.  

"Amy Barret says white people are Gods chosen ones. Minorities must submit to them and that's Gods plan. Obedience," reads another post from the same user. 

To be clear: Barrett never said either of these things. These Facebook posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

A review of her judicial opinions, public statements and academic writing hasn’t produced any quotes along these lines. Barrett clerked for late Justice Antonin Scalia before joining the faculty of Notre Dame Law School, where she taught for 15 years. Trump nominated her to the appellate court in 2017. 

Barrett has a limited judicial record compared with other Supreme Court nominees that Trump is reportedly considering. Timothy R. Johnson, a professor of political science and law at the University of Minnesota, told PolitiFact that Barrett’s relatively sparse paper trail makes it difficult to predict how she’ll rule if nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Religious background

Barrett has described herself as a devout Catholic. A liberal group on Instagram warning against her potential nomination pointed out her involvement in a Christian group called People of Praise. The New York Times reported that the group supports gender roles where husbands have authority over their wives. 

Democratic senators have pointed to an article she co-wrote early in her career as reason for concern that she would not work with impartiality. The article argued that Catholic judges should have the right to recuse themselves from cases that conflict with their personal beliefs, such as those involving the death penalty. 

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During her confirmation hearing for the appeals court, Barrett pushed back, saying that she "would never impose my own personal convictions upon the law."

Barrett’s supporters have said the controversy over her religious beliefs is a form of anti-Catholic bias, pointing out that other members of the court are Catholics. 

What LGBTQ and abortion rights organizations say

Barrett never said that "gays have a right to be discriminated against."

But LGBTQ rights and abortion rights organizations have criticized her past appointment. In 2017, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a civil rights organization that focuses on LGBTQ communities, penned an open letter to U.S. senators opposing Barrett’s appointment to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Lambda Legal took issue with a letter that Barrett had signed that defined marriage as the "indissoluble commitment between a man and a woman," and a talk that she gave at the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal organization that opposes LGBTQ rights. 

Supporters of abortion rights are concerned about Barrett’s abortion views.

In a 2013 interview, Barrett said that she believes that life begins at conception. In an article, she wrote that the Catholic Church’s views on prohibiting abortion are "absolute" because they "take away innocent life." She has ruled against abortion rights in the two abortion cases that she has heard on the bench.

Finally, the post claims Barrett has white supremacist views. We found no evidence of that in a review of Barret’s record. 

Our ruling

Facebook posts claim that Barrett said that "gays have a right to be discriminated against because they are against Gods wishes" and that "white people are Gods chosen ones."

Barrett has never said anything along these lines. 

We rate these posts False. ​

Our Sources

A Facebook post, Sep. 21, 2020

A Facebook post, Sep. 22, 2020

An Instagram post, Sep. 22, 2020

Alliance for Justice, "Trump’s SCOTUS shortlist," Sep. 2020

America Magazine, "Why do Catholics make up a majority of the Supreme Court?" Sep. 21, 2020

CNN, "Trump court announcement set for Saturday as Amy Coney Barrett emerges as a favorite," Sep. 22, 2020

C-SPAN, "User Clip: Durbin: Do you consider yourself an Orthodox Catholic," Sep. 6, 2017

Ethics and Public Policy Center, "Letter to Synod Fathers from Catholic women," Oct. 1, 2015

Lambda Legal, "27 LGBT Groups Oppose Confirmation of Joan Larsen and Amy Coney Barrett," Oct. 4, 2017

Marquette Law Review, "Catholic judges in capital cases," 1998

Notre Dame Magazine, "Students, faculty mark 40 years of Roe," Jan. 25, 2013

Texas Law Review, "Precedent and jurisprudential disagreement," 2013

Washington Post, "Amy Coney Barrett’s judicial record should alarm liberals," Sep. 20, 2020

Washington Post, "Amy Coney Barrett, possible Supreme Court nominee, has backed ‘flexible’ approach to court precedent," Jul. 5, 2018

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More by Noah Y. Kim

What social media posts get wrong about Amy Coney Barrett’s religious beliefs

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