Rachel Campos Duffy: Feminists have an Amy Coney Barrett problem
For the next thirty days, Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court seat left vacant by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, will be the most talked about woman in America.
Her life, both professional and personal, will be under a flaw-enhancing magnifier – the kind every woman detests.
Every decision Barrett has made will be sliced and diced by political operatives hoping to land a knock-out, nomination-killing punch.
Barrett is unquestionably qualified. She graduated number one in her Notre Dame Law School class, eventually winding up as a clerk on the Supreme Court for Judge Antonin Scalia.
Students, colleagues and former professors all agree that she is as brilliant as she is kind, generous, and humble.
In short, she has the perfect intellect and temperament for this all-important, lifetime appointment.
At her nomination ceremony Saturday at the White House she declared her love for America and the Constitution.
She also made no bones about the fact that she shares her former boss’ judicial philosophy that judges do not make policy, they interpret the law.
She’s refreshingly transparent and unlikely to be caught in a gotcha moment.
Barrett’s life challenges the feminist notion that fertility and children are a drain on a woman’s ambition. In her case, children and family gave her professional ambition purpose and perspective.
Since Barrett cannot be attacked on merit, Democrats are in a pickle. How to undermine an indisputably qualified woman in such a way that satisfies your left flank without looking like jerks?
The first round of mom-shaming has already been outsourced to social media trolls who are dutifully testing lines of attack before Democratic senators, still stinging from the electoral rebuke of their Kavanaugh spectacle, consider whether or not to use them in nationally televised hearings in October.
This is a dangerous game to play a month before a presidential election where women, including suburban women who look a lot like Barrett, could decide the outcome.
For the old guard feminist establishment, the stakes could not be higher.
As America gets a front-row seat to the life and times of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a lot of fair-minded women will conclude that her journey looks a lot like feminism to them!
Call it “conservative feminism” if you like, but this feminist rebrand may prove a lot more desirable to everyday American women who harbor more hope for love, marriage, sex, and kids (even lots of them) than woke feminists thought-leaders think is possible or even reasonable.
But wait, how could a pro-life, Catholic mom of seven become the new face of feminism?
How dare she get married and start a family in her 20s? And how provincial to refuse to abide by a socially and environmentally acceptable number of children?
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The feminist icon torch was supposed to be passed to Hillary Clinton, but she fell short in 2016.
Regardless, her brand of feminism – the icky tradeoffs, the anger, and the man-hating – never sat well with younger, sunnier women.
During her nomination ceremony, Barrett revealed that her husband “asks me every morning what he can do for me that day.”
A young woman hearing that could hardly be blamed for concluding that if she wants to one day have a career and family, the most important decision in her life is who she marries. And if she finds Mr. Right early in life, she would be smart to marry him sooner rather than later, lest she lose her lover and lifelong teammate forever.
That’s definitely not what young women are being taught in their Women’s Studies classes or in the pages of Cosmo.
As for the children, Barrett’s life challenges the feminist notion that fertility and children are a drain on a woman’s ambition. In her case, children and family gave her professional ambition purpose and perspective.
For the Barrett family, the generosity that faith and family life cultivate gave them the courage to open their hearts and homes to not one, but two Haitian children in need of adoption.
Likewise, her students at Notre Dame were as impressed with her maternal compassion as they were by her intellect. Caring for her own child with special needs may in part explain Barrett’s role in mentoring a student who went on to become the Supreme Court’s first visually impaired clerk.
Clearly, Amy Coney Barrett is operating at a higher intellectual and professional level than the vast majority of women.
Nonetheless, her life serves as a model to those of us seeking an alternative to the constraints of feminism.
Barrett broke all the rules in the feminist playbook. Fully aware of her exceptional academic and legal talents, she didn’t take the predictable, high-powered law firm route.
She went back to South Bend, to the Catholic community she knew and loved, to teach and raise babies.
She followed her heart, investing early in the things that last – marriage, family, and a deep and active spiritual life.
It takes courage and faith to build a full personal life when the world is telling you that you are squandering your talents by dividing your time and energy on diapers, carpools and the quotidian work of family life.
Liberals seem to be slowly and begrudgingly coming to terms with the fact that Amy Coney Barrett is more likely than not to replace their beloved and iconic, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the notorious RBG.
Soon, feminists will also have to contend with the fact that ACB will be an icon in her own right, tempering the excesses of feminism, and offering women the cultural validation that feminism denied them.
She is not a victim of the patriarchy. She is the product of her choices, and she reminds women who want to be mothers that there are miles of space between June Cleaver and Barbara Walters to land on.
President Trump should be commended for recognizing the value of including the voice of a mom with young children on the most important court in the land.
It sends a powerful message about what our country can and should value: the things that last.