Who is Myra Selby? The Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court controversy explained

Olivia Olphin October 27, 2020
Who is Myra Selby? The Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court controversy explained
Caroline Brehman-Pool/Getty Images

As Senate confirmation hearings for Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Amy Coney Barrett, continue throughout this week, the name Myra Selby has made its way into the press. Who is Myra Selby and what is her connection to Amy Coney Barrett’s SCOTUS nomination?

Who is Amy Coney Barrett?

Amy Coney Barrett is Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court seat. After the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg in September, a seat had opened up within the U.S Supreme Court, for which president Trump nominated Judge Barrett.

Barrett is 48 years old, has seven children and is a devout Catholic. She is a long-term academic, teaching and researching Law, specifically the federal courts, constitutional law and statutory interpretation.

Amy Coney Barrett’s history of voting with a right-wing stance is worrying to many liberals who had appreciated the left-leaning voting of Ruth Bader Ginsberg since her appointment in 1993.

Who is Myra Selby?

Myra Selby is the black female judge that Barack Obama nominated to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (a federal court covering Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin) in 2016. She was born and raised in Michigan and has spent a large part of her career as an attorney at the Indianapolis office of Ice Miller LLP.

However, Republicans including Mitch McConnell prevented and blocked Selby’s nomination. If confirmed, she would have been the second African American woman to serve on the Seventh Circuit.

Accusations of ‘court-packing’ against the Trump administration

Court-packing is the political practice of filling up the Supreme Court bench with a disproportionate number of either Republican or Democratic representatives. This effectively dilutes the democratic power of the Supreme Court by making all votes biased towards the .

Many are worried as the Trump administration are “poised to seat a third justice in less than four years”.

According to the late RBG in an NPR interview last year, court-packing would “make the court look partisan. It would be that — one side saying, ‘When we’re in power, we’re going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who would vote the way we want them to.’ “

What is the controversy around Myra Selby and Amy Coney Barrett?

Some Democrats are accusing Amy Coney Barrett of ‘stealing’ her seat from Myra Selby. When Selby’s nomination was blocked in 2016, it was in favour of Amy Coney Barrett who was nominated to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals after Trump was elected.

Others are accusing Joe Biden of letting down the black community, as he had pledged to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court. With Amy Coney Barrett heading for the seat instead of Selby, it seems like that promise may have to wait.

It has also been reported that Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s last wish was that she “not be replaced until a new president is installed”. This only makes Amy Coney Barrett’s hasty confirmation hearings a bigger and more divisive issue with the American public.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images
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Olivia Olphin is a freelance writer at GRV Media. She graduated with a first in English Literature from UCL and with a distinction from the Broadcast Journalism MA at City University. She has three years of freelance journalism experience and during this time she has worked for companies such as Eurosport and Times Radio. Her particular areas of expertise include film, theatre, and TV; she will most likely be found bingeing the newest fantasy or Marvel series! Olivia has many years of reviewing experience, working as accredited press for the London Film Festival. She has also written widely about culture and sex education, as well as LGBTQ+ and women's issues.