By Professor David McGrath, guest writer
Who knew that June Cleaver would be the president’s pick to fill the Supreme Court vacancy?
Yes, that’s right: Amy Coney Barrett is a contemporary version of Beaver Cleaver’s Mom.
An explanation is in order since the name may be unfamiliar to anyone under a certain age, or who does not watch Nick at Nite. June Cleaver was an iconic female character on TV in the nineteen-fifties and sixties, portrayed by actress Barbara Billingsley, the female lead and stay-at-home mom (when all moms stayed home) in the highly popular, long running sitcom, Leave It to Beaver.
A kid who loved watching another kid, Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver (Jerry Mather), get in trouble every week, I was vaguely aware that there were no mothers in my real life neighborhood who were as thin, as beautiful, as well dressed, as well coiffed, as Beaver’s mom, Mrs. Cleaver.
At the end of each day, when Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont) arrived home from work, June Cleaver (Billingsley) met her husband at the door with a radiant smile, in full make up, with sparkly earrings, and an apron almost as pretty as the dress it was protecting: “Supper’s nearly ready, dear.”
She was whip smart, too. Invariably the voice of reason, or moderation, or pragmatism, or caution, advising Ward, his elder son Wally (Tony Dow), and Beaver in whatever current conflict they were embroiled.
But whatever role she played behind the scenes, or in the kitchen, it was Dad who had to ultimately act, making the final decision, or effecting the best solution for whatever “pickle” Beaver and the rest of the family were in.
In the TV world, actresses deferred to the male stars. They mirrored, of course, the role of women in the real world, who were subject to an elaborate system of unwritten “Jim Crow” protocols preventing or limiting their access to top graduate schools, high tiered professions, equal salaries and promotions, and corporate boardrooms. Women were even unable to obtain mortgages, bank accounts, or credit.
And though they had won suffrage decades earlier, their votes, overwhelmingly, were rubber stamps of their husbands’, according to the Voter Participation Center, owing to the systemic female subordination in so many other facets of life.
Men cherished June Cleaver who posed no threat and buoyed the Mad Men status quo.
This past week, following the death of liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, President Trump promised that his nominee to fill the vacancy would be another woman, saying it as if he were the new champion of women’s rights, and not the president accused of sexual assault by 26 different women, and counting. But any hope that his pick would follow in the fierce, free, and feminist tradition of RBG was quickly dashed when he announced it was Amy Coney Barrett, who just like the 1950’s June Cleaver, has a history of subservience to the male political agenda.
As a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Amy Coney Barret has raised questions and leveled criticisms at the Affordable Care Act (ACA), even though good health care at a reasonable cost is a priority of women voters according to multiple polls. And conceivably, Barrett could be confirmed in time to cast the deciding vote to abolish the ACA in a scheduled November hearing.
She has also written opinions favoring felons’ right to possess handguns; agreeing with an Indiana law signed by then Governor Mike Pence restricting abortions; and reproving the Supreme Court for upholding same sex marriage.
Pleasing the NRA, disappearing Roe v. Wade, eradicating Obama care, and slowing if not stopping LGBTQ causes and momentum, are all near and dear to the heart of Mitch McConnell and his Republican male colleagues in the Senate. Little wonder that the only two senators opposing Barrett’s quick confirmation are themselves women, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Barrett, like the late Supreme Court Justice Scalia, is an “originalist,” cleaving to the original language and intent of the men who wrote the U.S. Constitution. She would cement the conservative majority on the court which would lean against governmental regulatory efforts of businesses and corporations, and on matters like taxes.
Amy Coney Barrett is everything a business man wants in a Supreme Court Justice. This smart, young woman with an iron clad history of acquiescence for male causes and priorities, will likely appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for Supreme Court Approval before or closely after the Nov. 3rdelection.
“Supper’s nearly ready, dear.”
English professor David McGrath of Florida Southwestern State College in Punta Gorda is an at-large columnist and author of SOUTH SIDERS. His essays have appeared in the WASHINGTON POST, L.A.TIMES, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE, SARASOTA HERALD TRIBUNE, BIRMINGHAM NEWS, and ORLANDA SENTINEL, among other big city dailies.Image Credits: Mr. Handyman