An ad hominem argument, from Latin for “to or toward the man/person”, bypasses the elements of fact and evidence in a judgment and judges the argument on the basis of who the person is making the argument. Let’s say a person says he saw a police car go by. Rather than question the man’s eyesight or check the patrol patterns for the area to disconfirm his testimony, you point out that he is unshaven and is wearing a funny hat.
Although ad hominem works in relation to a woman, too, using the Latin word for woman highlights how I want to lay out the way a young woman aligns herself with a particular ideology.
As she is growing up, her family inducts her into the family world view, often through church attendance or social activities or enrollment in a certain type of school. Some parents carefully monitor their children’s friends to maintain consistency to their world view. They may appear down at the school house to make sure nothing contravening their world view is being taught. And if their church or pastor fails to conform to their world view, they change pastors or churches or denominations or even religions. An example would be Mexican Catholics who convert to Evangelical Christianity because it conforms more to an upwardly mobile life-style.
As the child enters school, shepherded by parents, family, friends, and maybe teachers. In my old school where I taught for 20 years, there were Mormon teachers and a Mormon seminary across the street which students attended. This maintained a fairly Mormon orientation for those children.
Sometimes even after high school, the student is sent off to a denominational college. One of my devout Mormon students came back from the state university which had a large Mormon center on campus and told me how tough it was not to tear himself away from the students and instructors around him who did not share his values to take off back to the Mormon Center. He wanted to learn, so he maintained a somewhat uncomfortable presence among non-Mormons. Most students rewarded all their lives for conformity are not that adventurous or brave.
And so it is easy to see how a law clerk, raised in a Catholic home and probably Catholic school setting, could wind up clerking to another deeply conservative Catholic, Justice Scalia, and never undergo a real baptism (pardon the wordplay) of divergent thinking. It would be a wonder to her, then, that so many people who outwardly seem normal and pleasant enough could harbor such disastrous ideas and question her about her concern for people and for the law.
Amy Coney Barrett faces these terrible heathens called Democrats now.