As one of America’s highest-profile working moms begins her confirmation hearings, Judge Amy Coney Barrett said former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia helped mold her philosophy on the bench and in life.
Barrett will begin her confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court on Monday morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The committee’s last confirmation hearing, in 2018, was a no-holds-barred vituperative confrontation that eventually saw Justice Brett Kavanaugh confirmed.
Barrett’s opening statement for her Monday hearing was released Sunday, according to Fox News.
She began by citing the importance of her children, parents and siblings and noted that if confirmed, “I would be the first mother of school-age children to serve on the Court.”
Barrett on Scalia: “His judicial philosophy is mine, too.” pic.twitter.com/gk4FPAMVRU
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Barrett shared in her statement the impact that working for Scalia, who died in 2016, had upon her.
“More than the style of his writing, though, it was the content of Justice Scalia’s reasoning that shaped me. His judicial philosophy was straightforward: A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were,” she said.
“Sometimes that approach meant reaching results that he did not like. But as he put it in one of his best known opinions, that is what it means to say we have a government of laws, not of men,” the judge said.
Barrett said Scalia “taught me more than just law. He was devoted to his family, resolute in his beliefs, and fearless of criticism. And as I embarked on my own legal career, I resolved to maintain that same perspective.”
“There is a tendency in our profession to treat the practice of law as all-consuming, while losing sight of everything else. But that makes for a shallow and unfulfilling life. I worked hard as a lawyer and a professor; I owed that to my clients, my students, and myself. But I never let the law define my identity or crowd out the rest of my life. A similar principle applies to the role of courts,” she wrote.
Barrett noted that the role of a court has limits in the life of a judge and of a people.
“Courts have a vital responsibility to enforce the rule of law, which is critical to a free society. But courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life,” she wrote.
“The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the People. The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try,” the judge said.
In a world of winners, Barrett said, she is mindful of the losers.
“When I write an opinion resolving a case, I read every word from the perspective of the losing party,” she wrote. “I ask myself how would I view the decision if one of my children was the party I was ruling against: Even though I would not like the result, would I understand that the decision was fairly reasoned and grounded in the law?
“That is the standard I set for myself in every case, and it is the standard I will follow as long as I am a judge on any court.”
Barrett addressed concerns that she will be an independent voice on the court.
“I believe deeply in the rule of law and the place of the Supreme Court in our Nation. I believe Americans of all backgrounds deserve an independent Supreme Court that interprets our Constitution and laws as they are written. And I believe I can serve my country by playing that role,” she wrote.
In an homage to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she wrote that “I have been nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat, but no one will ever take her place. I will be forever grateful for the path she marked and the life she led.”
Barrett closed by mentioning her faith.
“I would like to thank the many Americans from all walks of life who have reached out with messages of support over the course of my nomination. I believe in the power of prayer, and it has been uplifting to hear that so many people are praying for me,” she wrote.
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