Does The White House Know What A Rhodes Scholar Is? (Hint: Amy Coney Barrett Isn’t One)

Erin Corbett
·3 mins read

Republicans are now peddling Amy Coney Barrett, a federal appellate judge and Notre Dame law professor, to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. With just three years as a Cirtcuit Court judge under her belt and a far-right, anti-abortion record to show for it, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany added another title to Barrett’s resume during a press briefing on Thursday, stating, “She is also a Rhodes scholar.”

Moments later, a reporter was quick to correct McEnany. “When you said Judge Barrett was a Rhodes Scholar, I don’t believe that is true,” said Bloomberg correspondent Justin Sink, to which McEnany responded, “Well, that’s what I have written here,” in a particularly embarrassing moment for McEnany, who is oft used to defending false claims made by the president, herself, or others in the White House.

But Barrett is not a Rhodes scholar — a participant of the prestigious international scholarship program that allows young people to study at the University of Oxford in England. Rather, Barrett earned a bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College in Tennessee, which isn’t quite the same.

After Sink pointed out that Barrett attended Rhodes College, McEnany acknowledged her error, saying, “my bad,” but not before the internet could have a field day over it.

This isn’t much of a surprise though. Since the Trump administration announced Barrett as its pick to succeed Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, Republicans are doubling down on her nomination. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz even wrote a book about it, arguing that the Supreme Court needs five conservative justices to “ensure the American experiment continues to thrive.” Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a GOP incumbent trying to hold on to her seat echoed the same, calling Barrett, “The embodiment of the American dream.”

Right-wingers have hailed Barrett’s brand of so-called “conservative feminism” — which is not a thing — by pointing to her as an example of a woman who can have it all: a mom to seven kids with a challenging workload. Erika Bachiochi, an anti-abortion legal scholar wrote for Politico that these things make Barrett both a “feminist icon” and a great candidate to take on abortion rights. But there’s actually nothing feminist about rolling back Roe v. Wade.

In the Senate, many Republicans are rallying around Barrett and pushing for a vote on her confirmation before the presidential election. They argue she was already vetted for a previous 2018 Supreme Court vacancy, filled by Brett Kavanaugh, and believe she will be consistent in her conservative politics.

“She looks like she will not change her point of view,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) told Politico. “She’ll be consistent with her opinions of the past, and sadly that’s not been the case for a number of so-called conservatives when they got to the court.”

But, sadly for her, she won’t quite meet the Rhodes Scholar requirement in that vetting process. Personally, as someone who enjoys road trips, I wonder if I, too, might count as a Rhodes scholar.

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