Courageous ACB in her own words

Clifford A. Brown

By Clifford A. Brown

Clifford A. Brown

 | September 27, 202015 COMMENTS10 UNFOLLOW

Amy Coney Barrett and Trump

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is her own woman, not the next Scalia/Alito/Thomas. She has thought her way through court business since law school, laying out her concerns and reasoning in plain print. While court opinions and law review articles can be a bit daunting, she writes clearly enough for the lay reader to understand.

Instead of accepting the pre-spun sound bytes and clipped quotes, we should look to the available complete video and writings of Amy Coney Barrett. I salute Heavy for having provided quotes with links to sources back in 2018, when ACB was under consideration to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. A quick search on YouTube and Barrett’s Notre Dame Law School faculty page yielded a helpful set of videos and writings, outside of court opinions, with Courageous ACB in her own words.*

Summarizing ACB’s law review articles, she has thought her way through the role of courts since law school. Her first publication of note, a 1997 article, addressed one instance of people of faith living obediently to a higher authority while also participating in a system of secular law. At the time, she believed that Roman Catholic church teaching barred faithful judges from participation in death penalty cases. She concluded that judicial ethics rules allowed these judges to recuse themselves, so allowing Catholics to be faithful to both heavenly and earthly authority. The rest of her public writings flesh out her views on interpreting the Constitution and on the power of precedent.

“Applying the law as written” is a bit complicated. While Barrett clearly respects the man who gave her career a boost into the highest legal orbit, she has worked through the labels of “originalism” and “textualism.” In one article, ACB points out that “original meaning” is complicated by who was using the words at the time. She claims that legislators use words in knowable special ways, distinct from the general public of the same time. This should not be a big surprise. We all sort of know this. It matters, however, if you are anchoring your legal argument, your claim to get the law right, in a study of word use and definition at a particular time. So, should a judge, trying to faithfully apply laws as written, apply the general public’s understanding, or the usage common in the Congress that passed the law? You can see how this might matter when you think about arguments over “sex” and “gender,” for example.

Barrett advocates a practical approach to precedent that is unfaithful to written law or the Constitution. She points out that the Supreme Court not only decides whether to follow precedent in a case, it also decides which cases to hear or to reject based on the obvious precedents that would arise in a case. So, justices choose to avoid tough decisions regularly. Given human imperfection, Barrett recognizes that any given justice or legislator would be overwhelmed if they focused on challenging every single past error. So, operating in the real world, Barrett seems to advise picking battles when they may be winnable. She recognizes that part of what shapes the ability to win a battle over past court decisions is public pressure and pressure from the other branches.

Beyond the topics the general public experiences from time to time in stories about federal courts, ACB has thought through the limits of the Article III courts to govern themselves, apart from the letter of laws passed by Congress and signed by the President. In one article, Barrett suggests that the Supreme Court is limited in its power to impose common procedural rules on each federal circuit. On the other hand, she offers a possible defense of the federal courts developing a common law of procedures, filling gaps in the federal laws governing the courts.


2017: The complete clown show of the Senate confirmation hearing for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals seat is on C-SPAN.



The official transcript of the nomination announcement at the White House is now posted.** Key quotes:

I love the United States, and I love the United States Constitution.

[Justice Scalia’s] judicial philosophy is mine too: A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.

But this evening, I also want to acknowledge you, my fellow Americans. The President has nominated me to serve on the United States Supreme Court, and that institution belongs to all of us.

If confirmed, I would not assume that role for the sake of those in my own circle, and certainly not for my own sake. I would assume this role to serve you. I would discharge the judicial oath, which requires me to administer justice without respect to persons, do equal right to the poor and rich, and faithfully and impartially discharge my duties under the United States Constitution.

Writings: A review of publications gives insight into Barrett’s thinking, outside the constraints of writing a court opinion. Here is the list of publications, from Amy Coney Barrett’s Notre Dame Law School faculty page [quotations indented and my brief comments added in square brackets]:

Congressional Insiders and Outsiders, U.Chi. L. Rev. (2017)

Considering the implications of the process-based turn in statutory interpretation exposes the unappreciated textualist assumption that its prototypical ordinary reader is a congressional outsider. Because earlier debates in statutory interpretation pitted text against intent, textualists had no need to be particularly precise about the perspective they employed to determine statutory meaning. They identified their construct as a skilled user of language, typically familiar with legal conventions, but they did not say much more than that.

Process-based theories proceed from the perspective of a hypothetical legislator, and that focus requires textualists to look more closely at their own assumptions. It is clear that textualists have almost always defined the relevant linguistic community to include congressional outsiders, but they have not made that explicit. The choice to define the relevant community as including congressional outsiders is significant because it determines how elastically courts will treat language. The peculiarities of the legislative process mean that congressional insiders sometimes understand language in something other than its most natural sense. If courts employ an outsider’s perspective, those less natural readings are off the table.

Textualists must, of course, defend their choice of perspective. Scholars who advocate a focus on congressional procedure say that faithful agency requires courts to comply with Congress’s linguistic conventions. Justice Scalia’s work, which emphasizes fidelity to the text and duty to the people, offers textualists the beginning of a response. It remains to them to develop it.

Originalism and Stare Decisis, 92 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1921 (2017).

The practice of assuming—without deciding—that all surrounding, unchallenged law is correct operates invisibly. It is thus hardly noticed, and the way in which it contributes to the law’s stability is underappreciated. The attention comes when the presumption is set aside. For example, the Court sometimes calls for supplemental briefing to address the issue whether a precedent that the parties did not challenge should be overruled. Or, Justices sometimes urge the overruling of a case where the merits of the precedent were neither raised nor briefed by the parties. The Court also decides how much precedent to unsettle when it decides how broadly to write an opinion: there are sometimes disputes about whether the Court should overrule a precedent outright or merely narrow it and leave the question whether it should be overruled for another day (or never).98 These choices are not best understood as choices about the strength of stare decisis. They are better understood as choices about whether to put the merits of precedent on the agenda, thereby forcing the Court to consider whether stare decisis should hold the precedent in place.

Students of stare decisis focus primarily on how stare decisis should play out once the validity of a precedent is on the table, but agenda control is equally if not more important. It also poses a distinct set of questions. For example, it is worth considering whether principle ever obligates a justice to put the question of precedent’s validity on the table sua sponte; whether duty strongly counsels a minimalist approach that avoids questioning precedent wherever possible; whether it is a matter left to the prudential judgment of each Justice; and, if it is a prudential judgment, what factors should guide the decision.

Congressional Originalism, 19 U. Penn. J. of Const. L. 1 (2017) (with John Copeland Nagle)

The Constitution does not require the Supreme Court to correct every constitutional error, and it does not require Congress to do so either. It permits errors to exist until an institution in a position to do so— the Court, Congress, or the President—decides that it is an opportune time to correct them. In the case of Congress, that question of timing is driven by political calculations, which are largely dependent upon pressure from the People to question what had previously seemed unquestionable precedents. In this sense, the People have power to initiate the process of correcting constitutional error—an observation consistent with the popular constitutionalist claim that the People have power to initiate constitutional change.

No constitutional theory, including originalism, needs to account for all constitutional law as it currently exists or explain how an office holder could realistically go about correcting deeply rooted errors present in existing constitutional law. Justice Scalia was right to say that originalists can be pragmatic about precedent. But that pragmatism is not, as is commonly assumed, a choice to treat erroneous precedent as law superseding the text it purports to interpret. The pragmatism is one of timing. The office holder has the discretion to decide when the timing is right to correct the error. Until then, the office holder—be it the Supreme Court through the rules of adjudication or Congress with a presumption of constitutionality—can, as it were, assume arguendo that certain settled precedents are correct.

Countering the Majoritarian Difficulty, 31 Const. Comm. 61 (2017).

NFIB v. Sebelius might be explained by the fact that Chief Justice Roberts has not proven himself to be a textualist in matters of statutory interpretation. Even in straight-up statutory interpretation cases, Chief Justice Roberts has found himself on the opposite side of staunch textualists like Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito precisely because of his willingness to depart from ostensibly clear text to better serve the statutory purpose. Indeed, Richard Re has dubbed the Roberts Court’s approach “the new Holy Trinity” after the case best known for openly prioritizing purpose over text. While the Roberts version does not expressly assert the power to depart from statutory text, Re observes that it accomplishes a similar result by considering “nontextual factors when determining how much clarity is required for a text to be clear.” This methodology, when combined with Chief Justice Roberts’ devotion to constitutional avoidance, has yielded cases like NFIB v. Sebelius.

To the extent that NFIB v. Sebelius expresses a commitment to judicial restraint by creatively interpreting ostensibly clear statutory text, its approach is at odds with the statutory textualism to which most originalists subscribe. Thus Justice Scalia, criticizing the majority’s construction of the Affordable Care Act in both NFIB v. Sebelius and King v. Burwell, protested that the statute known as Obamacare should be renamed “SCOTUScare” in honor of the Court’s willingness to “rewrite” the statute in order to keep it afloat. For Justice Scalia and those who share his commitment to uphold text, the measure of a court is its fairminded application of the rule of law, which means going where the law leads. By this measure, it is illegitimate for the Court to distort either the Constitution or a statute to achieve what it deems a preferable result.

All of this is to say that Barnett is not alone in his skepticism of either the Roberts Court’s conception of judicial restraint or its approach to statutory interpretation. Indeed, this is a point on which those who treat the original public meaning of text as a constraint might agree, regardless whether they embrace Barnett’s Republican Constitution.

Statutory Interpretation in The Encyclopedia of American Governance (2016).

Federal Court Jurisdiction in The Encyclopedia of American Governance (2016).
Substantive Canons and Faithful Agency, 90 B.U. L. REV. 109 (2010).

The conflict between substantive canons and faithful agency pushes textualists to think hard about whether the judicial obligation of faithful agency is unqualified. This Article has argued that the obligation is not necessarily absolute. At least when a substantive canon promotes constitutional values, the judicial power to safeguard the Constitution can be understood to qualify the duty that otherwise flows from the principle of legislative supremacy. On this view, courts are not limited to a black-and-white, yes-or-no choice about a statute’s constitutionality; they possess a limited power to push a statute in a direction that better accommodates constitutional values.

Even so, the obligation of faithful agency is modified, not overcome. A court cannot advance even a constitutional value at the expense of a statute’s plain language; the proposed interpretation must be plausible. Moreover, a canon does not justify even a limited deviation from the norm of faithful agency simply because it can be connected to some constitutional norm. A court must carefully consider the specificity of the norm at stake and whether deviation from the statute’s best reading actually advances it. When the power is exercised within these limits, the deployment of a substantive canon does not directly clash with the structural limitations on statutory interpretation and judicial review. When statutory language implicates an important constitutional value and leaves room for an alternate interpretation, it makes sense for a court to demand greater clarity from Congress by pushing the statute in ways that its language will permit. At the same time, the limits placed upon the exercise of this power adequately accommodate the norm of legislative supremacy.

Federal Jurisdiction in Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Introduction: Stare Decisis and Nonjudicial Actors, 83 Notre Dame Law Review 1147 (2008).

What means can the states, the Congress, the President, and even private citizens legitimately employ to express disagreement with the Supreme Court? If nonjudicial actors register such disagreement, how, if at all, should the Supreme Court take account of it? These are the kinds of questions with which this Symposium grapples.

This Introduction frames these questions by pausing to reflect upon the variety of ways in which nonjudicial actors have, over time, registered their disagreement with decisions of the United States Supreme Court. Both public officials and private citizens have battled the Court on any number of occasions since its inception, and they have employed a diverse range of tactics in doing so. They have resisted Supreme Court judgments. They have denied the binding effect of Supreme Court opinions. They have sought to overrule the Court by statute or constitutional amendment. They have sought overruling in the Court itself. They have tried to discipline the Court through jurisdictional limitations or onerous procedural regulation. And they have pressured the Court by appealing to public opinion. Some of these means, like constitutional override of a disfavored opinion, are generally consistent with the notion that Supreme Court precedent is the law of the land. Others, like interfering with the enforcement of a Supreme Court judgment, represent a head-on challenge to the Court’s authority. In what follows, I will describe some notable examples of each of these kinds of protest, noting, along the way, the problems posed by each.

Procedural Common Law, 94 Virginia L. Rev. 813-88 (2008). [This is about the federal courts’ ability to regulate their own internal conduct. Procedure can affect the course and outcome of cases coming before the courts.]

Debates about the common lawmaking power of the federal courts focus exclusively on substantive common law. But federal common law is not limited to matters of substance; it reaches matters of procedure as well. Federal law includes a robust body of what might be called procedural common law—common law primarily concerned with the regulation of internal court processes rather than substantive rights and obligations. This body of law includes many doctrines that are fixtures in the law of procedure and federal courts. For example, abstention, forum non conveniens, remittitur, stare decisis, and preclusion can all fairly be characterized as procedural common law. This body of law does not fit easily into the traditional account of federal common lawmaking power, because it generally lacks certain features thought characteristic of federal common law: It does not bind state courts, it falls outside of the recognized enclaves of federal common law, and it is not entirely subject to congressional abrogation.

This Article offers a tentative account of the power of the federal courts to make procedural common law. One explanation for this power is a variation on the enclave theory advanced in the context of substantive common law: the constitutional structure preempts the state’s ability to regulate federal-court procedure, and, if Congress fails to specify procedural rules, federal courts must. This theory rings partly true insofar as it recognizes that federal-court procedure lies beyond state control. It is unsatisfying, however, insofar as it conceives of the procedural power of the federal courts as entirely derivative of and subservient to that of Congress. The Article thus considers an alternate theory: that procedural common lawmaking authority derives not from congressional default, but from Article III’s grant of judicial power. This theory has more force insofar as it accounts for the fact that the power of the courts sometimes, even if rarely, exceeds that of Congress in matters of procedure. It depends, however, on the widely assumed but largely untested proposition that federal courts possess inherent procedural authority. The Article canvasses Founding-era history to determine whether the Constitution can fairly be understood to confer this power, concluding that the historical evidence, while far from overwhelming, supports the claim that federal courts possess inherent procedural authority. Building from this notion of inherent procedural authority, the Article then sketches a theory to explain the power of the federal courts to make procedural common law.

The Supervisory Power of the Supreme Court, 103 Colum. L. Rev. 324 (2006).

This Article has argued that the Constitution’s structure cuts against, and history rules out, the proposition that the Supreme Court possesses inherent supervisory power over inferior court procedure. If such authority exists, it derives from the Constitution’s distinction between supreme and inferior courts. Part III claimed that it is more consistent with the Constitution’s structure to interpret the Court’s “supremacy” vis-a-vis inferior federal courts as a limit on the way Congress can structure the judicial branch than to interpret it as a source of inherent authority for the Supreme Court. Even assuming, however, that the Court’s “supremacy” functions as a grant of power to the Supreme Court, the conclusion that the Supreme Court possesses supervisory power over procedure depends upon the conclusion that this particular power is part of that grant. Part IV argued that history fails to support that conclusion. It was not until the twentieth century, when the Court rejected the notion of federal general common law, that it claimed the right to prescribe procedure for inferior federal courts. Given the recent vintage of this claim, history does not support the notion that the power to prescribe inferior court procedure is inherent in any court designated “supreme.”

The implications of this conclusion are potentially far-reaching. For example, if it lacks inherent supervisory power over inferior federal courts, does the Supreme Court have the authority to prescribe, through adjudication, rules of statutory interpretation that all federal courts must observe? Rules of issue and claim preclusion? Rules of stare decisis? Resolving these questions is a problem for another day. For now, it is enough to observe that, unless the Supreme Court acts through the federal rulemaking process, inferior federal courts may have more independence on these matters than is commonly assumed.

Statutory Stare Decisis in the Courts of Appeals, 73 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 317 (2005).

I argue that in the courts of appeals, as in the Supreme Court, the theory emphasizing the connection between statutory stare decisis and the separation of powers provides far more credible support for the doctrine than does a theory of congressional acquiescence. Nevertheless, even the separation-of-powers theory does not justify super-strong statutory stare decisis in the courts of appeals. To the extent that statutory stare decisis operates as a restraint on judicial policymaking, it does so based on assumptions about how Congress will react to the Supreme Court. It is both impractical and inconsistent with the system of appellate review that Congress has designed for the inferior courts to assume that Congress will respond to them in the same way. Whatever the merits of statutory stare decisis in the Supreme Court, I conclude that the inferior courts have no sound basis for following the Supreme Court’s practice.

Stare Decisis and Due Process, 74 U. Colo. L. Rev. 1011 (2003).

In this Article, I argue that the preclusive effect of precedent raises due-process concerns, and, on occasion, slides into unconstitutionality. The Due Process Clause requires that a court give a person notice and an opportunity for a hearing before depriving her of life, liberty or property. Because of this requirement, courts have held in the context of issue preclusion that as a general rule, judicial determinations can bind only parties. The preclusion literature asserts that this parties only requirement does not apply to stare decisis because stare decisis, in contrast to issue preclusion, is a flexible doctrine. Yet stare decisis often functions inflexibly in the federal courts, particularly in the courts of appeals. I claim that in its rigid application – when it effectively forecloses a litigant from meaningfully urging error – correction – stare decisis unconstitutionally deprives a litigant of the right to a hearing on the merits of her claims. To avoid the due-process problem, I suggest that courts render stare decisis more flexible; specifically, I propose that courts remove rules – like, for example, the rule that one appellate panel cannot overrule another – that create nearly insurmountable barriers to error – correction. stare decisis, precedent, preclusion, due process, estoppel.

Catholic Judges in Capital Cases, 81 Marquette L.Rev. 303 (1998) (with John H. Garvey) [ Amy Coney was Garvey’s law school research assistant, so likely did most of the work.]

While mere identification of a judge as Catholic is not sufficient reason for recusal under federal law, the authors suggest that the moral impossibility of enforcing capital punishment in such cases as sentencing, enforcing jury recommendations, and affirming are in fact reasons for not participating.

* A play on Ruth Bader Ginsburg fans calling the late Justice Ginsburg “the Notorious RBG.”

** Remarks by President Trump Announcing His Nominee for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

Remarks by President Trump Announcing His Nominee for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
LAW & JUSTICE Issued on: September 26, 2020
Rose Garden
5:04 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.  I stand before you today to fulfill one of my highest and most important duties under the United States Constitution: the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice. (Applause.) This is my third such nomination after Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh. And it is a very proud moment indeed.

Over the past week, our nation has mourned the loss of a true American legend. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a legal giant and a pioneer for women. Her extraordinary life and legacy will inspire Americans for generations to come.

Now we gather in the Rose Garden to continue our never-ending task of ensuring equal justice and preserving the impartial rule of law.

Today, it is my honor to nominate one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds to the Supreme Court. She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials, and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution: Judge Amy Coney Barrett. (Applause.)

We’re also joined by Amy’s husband, Jesse — thank you, Jesse, very much — and their seven beautiful children. Congratulations to you all. A very special day.

With us as well are the First Lady — thank you, First Lady — (applause) — along with Vice President Mike Pence and his amazing wife, Karen. Thank you very much, Mike. (Applause.)

Judge Barrett is a graduate of Rhodes College and the University of Notre Dame Law School. At Notre Dame, she earned a full academic scholarship, served as the Executive Editor of the Law Review, graduated first in her class, and received the law school’s award for the best record of scholarship and achievement.

Upon graduation, she became a clerk for Judge Laurence Silberman on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Amy then received one of the highest honors a young lawyer could have, serving as a clerk on the Supreme Court for Justice Antonin Scalia. A highly — (applause) — a very highly respected law professor at Notre Dame wrote to Justice Scalia with a one-sentence recommendation: “Amy Coney is the best student I ever had.” That’s pretty good. (Laughter.) Justice Scalia hired her shortly thereafter.

And we are honored to have his wonderful wife, Maureen — where is Maureen? Maureen Scalia — with us today. (Applause.) Thank you. And our great Secretary of Labor, thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. (Applause.) Very good genes in that family, I will say. Very good genes.

Before joining the bench, Judge Barrett spent 15 years as a Professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School. She was renowned for her scholarship, celebrated by her colleagues, and beloved by her students. Three times, she was selected at Notre Dame, Distinguished Professor of the Year.

When I nominated Judge Barrett to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2017, every law clerk from her time at the Supreme Court endorsed her and endorsed her nomination, writing, quote, “We are Democrats, Republicans, and independents…yet we write to support the nomination of Professor Barrett to be a Circuit Judge…Professor Barrett is a woman of remarkable intellect and character. She is eminently qualified for the job.”

And I can tell you, I did that too. I looked and I studied, and you are very eminently qualified for this job. You are going to be fantastic. Thank you. (Applause.) Really fantastic.

The entire Notre Dame Law facility and faculty, everybody — everybody at that school also — we got so many letters — also wrote letters of support of Amy’s nomination to the Seventh Circuit. They wrote, in effect: “Despite our differences, we unanimously agree that our constitutional system depends upon an independent judiciary staffed by talented people devoted to the fair and impartial administration of the rule of law. And we unanimously agree that Amy is such a person.”

For the last three years, Judge Barrett has served with immense distinction on the federal bench. Amy is more than a stellar scholar and judge; she is also a profoundly devoted mother. Her family is a core part of who Amy is. She opened her home and her heart, and adopted two beautiful children from Haiti. Her incredible bond with her youngest child, a son with Down Syndrome, is a true inspiration.

If confirmed, Justice Barrett will make history as the first mother of school-aged children ever to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s good. (Applause.)

To her children Emma, Vivian, Tess, John Peter, Liam, Juliet, and Benjamin, thank you for sharing your incredible mom with our country. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Amy Coney Barrett will decide cases based on the text of the Constitution as written. As Amy has said, “Being a judge takes courage. You are not there to decide cases as you may prefer. You are there to do your duty and to follow the law wherever it may take you.” That is exactly what Judge Barrett will do on the U.S. Supreme Court.

I want to thank the members of the Senate. We have so many of them here today. Thank you very much. I see you in the audience, and you’re so proud. But I want to thank you for your commitment and to providing a fair and timely hearing. I know it will be that.

Judge Barrett was confirmed to the Circuit Court three years ago by a bipartisan vote. Her qualifications are unsurpassed — unsurpassed — and her record is beyond reproach. This should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation. It should be very easy. Good luck. (Laughter.) It’s going to be very quick. I’m sure it’ll be extremely non-controversial. We said that the last time, didn’t we? Well, thank you all very much, and thank you for being here. That’s really great. Thank you. (Applause.)

I further urge all members of the other side of the aisle to provide Judge Barrett with the respectful and dignified hearing that she deserves and, frankly, that our country deserves. I urge lawmakers and members of the media to refrain from personal or partisan attacks.

And the stakes for our country are incredibly high. Rulings that the Supreme Court will issue in the coming years will decide the survival of our Second Amendment, our religious liberty, our public safety, and so much more.

To maintain security, liberty, and prosperity, we must preserve our priceless heritage of a nation of laws, and there is no one better to do that than Amy Coney Barrett.

Law and order is the foundation of the American system of justice. No matter the issue, no matter the case before her, I am supremely confident that Judge Barrett will issue rulings based solely upon a fair reading of the law. She will defend the sacred principle of equal justice for citizens of every race, color, religion, and creed.

Congratulations again to Judge Barrett. I know that you will make our country very, very proud.
Please, Amy, say a few words. Thank you very much. Congratulations. Congratulations. (Applause.)

JUDGE BARRETT: Thank you very much, Mr. President. I am deeply honored by the confidence that you have placed in me. And I am so grateful to you and the First Lady, to the Vice President and the Second Lady, and to so many others here for your kindness on this rather overwhelming occasion.

I fully understand that this is a momentous decision for a President. And if the Senate does me the honor of confirming me, I pledge to discharge the responsibilities of this job to the very best of my ability. I love the United States, and I love the United States Constitution. I am truly — (applause) — I am truly humbled by the prospect of serving on the Supreme Court.

Should I be confirmed, I will be mindful of who came before me. The flag of the United States is still flying at half-staff in memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to mark the end of a great American life. Justice Ginsburg began her career at a time when women were not welcome in the legal profession. But she not only broke glass ceilings, she smashed them. For that, she has won the admiration of women across the country and, indeed, all over the world. (Applause.)

She was a woman of enormous talent and consequence, and her life of public service serves as an example to us all. Particularly poignant to me was her long and deep friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia, my own mentor.

Justices Scalia and Ginsburg disagreed fiercely in print without rancor in person. Their ability to maintain a warm and rich friendship, despite their differences, even inspired an opera. These two great Americans demonstrated that arguments, even about matters of great consequence, need not destroy affection. In both my personal and professional relationships, I strive to meet that standard.

I was lucky enough to clerk for Justice Scalia, and given his incalculable influence on my life, I am very moved to have members of the Scalia family here today, including his dear wife, Maureen.

I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate. His judicial philosophy is mine too: A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold. The President has asked me to become the ninth justice, and as it happens, I’m used to being in a group of nine: my family. (Laughter.)

Our family includes me, my husband Jesse, Emma, Vivian, Tess, John Peter, Liam, Juliet, and Benjamin. Vivian and John Peter, as the President said, were born in Haiti and they came to us, five years apart, when they were very young. And the most revealing fact about Benjamin, our youngest, is that his brothers and sisters unreservedly identify him as their favorite sibling.

Our children obviously make our life very full. While I am a judge, I’m better known back home as a room parent, carpool driver, and birthday party planner. When schools went remote last spring, I tried on another hat. Jesse and I became co-principals of the Barrett e-learning academy. (Laughter.) And, yes, the list of enrolled students was a very long one.

Our children are my greatest joy, even though they deprive me of any reasonable amount of sleep. I couldn’t manage this very full life without the unwavering support of my husband, Jesse. At the start of our marriage, I imagined that we would run our household as partners. As it has turned out, Jesse does far more than his share of the work. To my chagrin, I learned at dinner recently that my children consider him to be the better cook. (Laughter.)

For 21 years, Jesse has asked me, every single morning, what he can do for me that day. And though I almost always say “nothing,” he still finds ways to take things off my plate. And that’s not because he has a lot of free time — he has a busy law practice — it’s because he is a superb and generous husband, and I am very fortunate.

Jesse and I — (applause) — Jesse and I have a life full of relationships, not only with our children, but with siblings, friends, and fearless babysitters, one of whom is with us today. I am particularly grateful to my parents, Mike and Linda Coney. I spent the bulk of — I have spent the bulk of my adulthood as a Midwesterner, but I grew up in their New Orleans home. And as my brother and sisters can also attest, Mom and Dad’s generosity extends not only to us, but to more people than any of us could count. They are an inspiration.

It is important at a moment like this to acknowledge family and friends. But this evening, I also want to acknowledge you, my fellow Americans. The President has nominated me to serve on the United States Supreme Court, and that institution belongs to all of us.

If confirmed, I would not assume that role for the sake of those in my own circle, and certainly not for my own sake. I would assume this role to serve you. I would discharge the judicial oath, which requires me to administer justice without respect to persons, do equal right to the poor and rich, and faithfully and impartially discharge my duties under the United States Constitution.

I have no illusions that the road ahead of me will be easy, either for the short term or the long haul. I never imagined that I would find myself in this position. But now that I am, I assure you that I will meet the challenge with both humility and courage.

Members of the United States Senate, I look forward to working with you during the confirmation process, and I will do my very best to demonstrate that I am worthy of your support. Thank you. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Come on up, family. Come on up, family. I want to acknowledge Attorney General Bill Barr. Bill, thank you very much for being here. Chief of Staff — thank you very much, Chief. You’re doing a great job. And all of the senators — please, we really appreciate it. And I know you’re going to have a busy couple of weeks, but I think it’s going to be easier than you might think.

So, thank you very much for being here. Thank you all. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Congratulations, Amy. (Applause.)
END 5:24 P.M. EDT

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