Understand more. Argue less. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

October 14, 2020

Understand more. Argue less.

The most effortless news experience of your week: both sides, without the exhaustion.


New Kid On The Bench

Katherine Chuang

"All Republicans will vote yes, and all Democrats will vote no.” That was Lindsey Graham (R-SC), head of the Senate Judiciary committee, during the first day of confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett on Monday (USA Today). 

Barrett worked in private practice after graduating first in her class at Notre Dame, where she later returned to teach. A year after graduating, she clerked for the late Anthony Scalia, and has stressed his influence on her career. Specifically, his use of strict constructionism. In 2017, she was appointed to serve as a Circuit Judge on the Seventh Circuit.

She was a 2018 finalist for the seat now occupied by Brett Kavanaugh, and has been questioned by Senators since Monday. The implications of her nomination are significant; the Supreme Court would have a decided conservative majority if she is confirmed. That majority could impact important issues like Roe v. Wade and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA will be heard before the Supreme Court in the next month. 

Let’s break it down.


  • Strict Constructionism. This means that cases are interpreted only with the information presented; precedent or personal beliefs are not involved (Cornell). Barrett has also placed an emphasis on the separation of powers, which would discourage courts from making policy-related decisions. (AP)

  • Confirmation Precedent. Barrett has followed the Ginsburg precedent of “no hints, no previews, no forecasts,” declining to answer Senator’s questions about her thoughts on future cases like Roe v. Wade and the ACA. (AP)

  • Abortion. On Tuesday, Barrett said “I'm answering a lot of questions about Roe, which I think indicates that Roe doesn't fall in that [super-precedent] category.” She hasn’t ruled over an abortion case during her career, but she did belong to the Faculty of Life at Notre Dame. (AP)

  • The ACA. On Tuesday, she said, I am not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act. I’m just here to apply the law and adhere to the rule of law.”  In 2012, Barrett signed a letter to then President Obama, condemning part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for providing contraceptives to the employees of religious institutions. (South Bend Tribune)


How It's Being Spun

Katherine Chuang

Here are the narratives from both sides, along with supporting headlines and article snippets. Knowing the bias in our news helps us understand the big picture. If you're reading on mobile, the Left's narrative will appear above the Right's. Next week, we'll switch it up.

Narrative from the Right

ACB is a great choice; her credentials are immaculate. As a strict constructionist, she will restore the vision for which our founding fathers fought so hard for. The Constitution puts the power to nominate and confirm a justice in our hands, and we’ve found the best there is. 

Headlines & Snippets

Amy Coney Barrett flips the script on Democrats over health care, notes when she adopted daughter

"Democrats grilled Amy Coney Barrett on health care Tuesday and the Supreme Court nominee responded by sharing her family's own personal story of access to health care." (Fox News)

Judiciary Senators On Barrett Hearings: ‘You Heard No Challenge To Her Record As A Judge’

"According to senators on the Judiciary Committee evaluating her nomination, Barrett handled the first day of hearings with grace, humility, and tenacity." (The Federalist)

Fact Check: Kamala Harris Repeats False Claims About Amy Coney Barrett and Obamacare

"VERDICT - MOSTLY FALSE. Barrett’s confirmation would likely not result in Obamacare being overturned, at least not now." (Brietbart)

Narrative from the Left

Barrett will give the Supreme Court the majority to undermine much of the progress that’s been made on a woman’s right to choose, healthcare, and LGBTQ rights. The Right is exploiting their majority to nominate a justice because their political power is in jeopardy. 

Headlines & Snippets

Barrett’s record: a conservative who would push the Supreme Court to the right.

"If she is confirmed, she would move the court slightly but firmly to the right, making compromise less likely and putting at risk the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade." (NYT)

Dozens Of Amy Coney Barrett’s Notre Dame Colleagues Call For Halt To Nomination

"Eighty-eight faculty members at the university penned a letter saying Barrett should delay her Supreme Court nomination until after the Nov. 3 election." (HuffPost)

Amy Coney Barrett Explained Why She Doesn’t Care About Preexisting Conditions

Her technical legal theories are too narrow to see 100 million people’s health coverage. (Slate)

What Does It All Mean?

Appointing justices to the Supreme Court has become yet another political game to run up points on the opposition. Speaking of games, there also happens to be a basketball court in the upper levels of the SCOTUS building called “The Highest Court in the Land.” Fun fact of the day, check.

  • If your news outlets lean right, the nomination may be portrayed as getting even for the shameful tarnishing of Brett Kavanaugh’s name. You likely will see Amy Coney Barrett as an exceptional candidate, mother, and citizen who has firm values which align with yours. You probably appreciate that she will not use the court to dictate policy, but if she happens to overturn some questionable Democratic policies... you won’t be too upset.
  • If your news outlets lean left, the nomination may be portrayed as an act of hypocrisy by Republicans who think they’re going to succumb to a Blue Wave on November 3rd. When talking about Barrett, you may be hesitant to point out her Catholic faith as a reason to not appoint her, for fear of inciting cries of religious discrimination. You might also support packing the court with Liberal justices, if Barrett is appointed, but you’ll probably keep that to yourself.

Polling has shown that the American people want the winner of the 2020 election to pick the next Justice by a margin of 52% to 39% (538). This creates an interesting dynamic come November. For Republicans, a filled SCOTUS seat may energize single-issue voters to show out in force, or they may see their work as completed and resign themselves to Biden’s current 10.6% national lead (538). For Democrats, it’s hard to see anything but an increase in voter turnout whether a confirmation is almost or already voted through. There were calls from the left to “pack the court” with liberal justices, if Barrett is confirmed, but Joe Biden recently said, “I’m not a fan” after weeks of declining to take a stance on the issue (AP).

That being said, it’s more complicated than just voter turnout. Barrett’s confirmation would create an opportunity to further significant tenets of the Conservative agenda, chiefly abortion regulation and dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

  • As a country, support for pro-choice and pro-life policies is almost the same (Gallup). However, not all voters align with their party’s predominant stance. Republicans are more likely to deviate from their own party’s stance on abortion (35%) than Democrats (29%). (Pew

  • Shocker, the ACA is a pretty partisan issue too, with 70% of Republicans wanting the Supreme Court overturn it and 83% of Democrats supporting the ACA. (KFF)

No matter what, this vacancy, like most things in Washington, has become a political chess match. The Senate Republicans have the majority to confirm Barrett, but whether that will help or hurt their chances in November remains to be seen.


It's Not All Bias 

Sometimes the news gets it right. Here are two articles that reported with Civility this week.

Snate Democrats Have Stopped Attacking Amy Coney Barrett's Faith for Now

Reason deviates from the Right's narrative by admitting the Democrats aren't going after Barrett for her faith. (Reason)

Judge Amy Coney Barrett Is the Right Nominee for This Moment | Opinion

Newsweek deviates from the Left's narrative by voicing an opinion that Barrett is qualified, not just a political prop. (Newsweek)

Weekly Civility Challenge

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Reply to this email with your response and we’ll feature the winner next week!

Last Week's Winner

"At a large outdoor gathering, someone I knew made what I thought were really outrageous claims. So, I went home and found evidence that they were wrong. When I shared it with them, it became clear that their mind was made up, regardless of my facts. Instead of arguing, I just stopped to listen. Sometimes civility, is just that. Listening.

Anders R. (Grand Rapids, MI)

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