At a Saturday news conference in the White House Rose Garden, President Trump announced the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court. Trump spoke warmly of the appellate judge before introducing her for a brief statement.
“This should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation,” The President spoke. “This should be very easy. It should be very quick. I’m sure it will be extremely non-controversial,” he said, with just a hint of irony, before adding, “We said that last time, didn’t we?”
The comment was a reference to the confirmation hearings of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In 2018, the Senate confirmed Kavanaugh’s appointment by a paper-thin margin, despite protests against his nomination and contentious hearings that were broadcast live. At those hearings, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a former classmate of Kavanaugh’s, accused the judge of sexually assaulting her as a teenager. The entire ordeal became a key moment in the #TimesUp movement, which demanded that men who abuse their power over women should no longer be rewarded.
Still, the upcoming battle for Barrett’s confirmation could prove even more intense.
When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died almost two weeks ago, political leaders immediately launched a war of words around the likelihood of replacing her before the November 3rd election. That eruption occurred because back in February 2016, Republicans, led by Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, refused to hold a confirmation vote for an Obama-appointed justice Merrick Garland. At the time, they argued that the American people ought to have a say in the process, and therefore an confirmation should be delayed until after the election.
But this time, McConnell wasted little time after Ginsburg’s death in revealing that he would not apply the same standard in this case. Instead, Senate Republicans will attempt to confirm Barrett in the five weeks before the general election, although it could overturn the Republican Senate majority as well as the presidency.
Barrett briefly addressed reporters on Saturday. She spoke fondly of Justice Ginsburg, whom she called “an inspiration to us all.” Additionally, Barrett lauded Ginsburg’s longtime friendship with another late justice, Antonin Scalia. Though their views of the law often sat at opposite ends of the political spectrum, with Scalia becoming an icon of the right before his death, and Ginsburg a legend of the left, the two justices were actually close friends. Barrett, who served as a clerk for Scalia in her early career, said that the friendship between the two justices represented our country at its best.
“These two great Americans demonstrated that arguments, even based on matters of great consequence, need not destroy relationships,” Barrett said.
She continued to praise Scalia’s legacy. “His judicial philosophy is mine, too,” she said. “A judge must apply the law as written. Judges must not be policymakers.”
More About Judge Barrett
Like Scalia, Barret is a devout Catholic. Some liberal critics fear that her religious leanings, including an objection to abortion, will affect her judicial rulings. Both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have warned that Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that affirmed a woman’s right to choose an abortion, could be gutted if Trump’s nominee is confirmed.
Still, Barrett’s history as a judge is fairly brief, so there are only so many cases to look at to understand how she will rule on the high court. Trump appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in 2017. Before that, she taught law for nearly 15 years at the University of Notre Dame, where she received her own law degree.
Barrett is 48 years old, which means if confirmed, she could end up serving the Supreme Court for four decades, as terms on the nation’s highest court has no expiration date. A native of Metairie, Louisiana, Barrett currently lives in South Bend, Indiana, with her husband and large, diverse family. In fact, Trump pointed to her modern family as a sign of history. If confirmed, Barrett would be the first mother of school-aged children to ever serve on the Supreme Court. The judge and her husband, Jesse Barrett, have seven children, all under the age of 20. Two of their children were adopted from Haiti, and one has Down Syndrome.