Amy Coney Barrett’s Grace in the Face of Hostile Hearings

14 October 2020

3 MINS

Amy Coney Barrett — Donald Trump’s third Supreme Court justice nominee — is showing grace in the face of hostile senate hearings this week, demonstrating why she deserves Trump’s nomination and a seat at the Supreme Court.

Much of the grilling that Barrett has so far faced has centred around ObamaCare. Democrat lawmakers fear that she may rule against the healthcare plan in upcoming oral arguments if her nomination is confirmed.

But of much greater interest during these hearings has been Barrett’s grace in the face of hostility; her stalwart commitment to originalism and the rule of law; and her inspiring faith in God.

Even before the Senate hearings began, accusations went flying online about Barrett’s Catholic faith and her family. Along with her husband Jesse, Barrett has seven children, two of whom they adopted from Haiti.

Sadly there were voices in the media suggesting that Barrett and her husband had ulterior motives in choosing to adopt, with Ibram X. Kendi of the Atlantic framing it in these terms:

Regarding Barrett’s faith, at senate hearings that saw her appointed as an appeals court judge several years ago, Senator Diane Feinstein (D) said to Barrett,

“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws, is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern…”

Building on this anti-Catholic theme, legacy media empires have gone after Barrett’s faith in late weeks, making wild claims about the charismatic Catholic church of which she is a member. Quoting one ex-member, Reuters characterised the group as a “cult”. Other news outlets incorrectly claimed that Barrett’s church group was the inspiration behind the dystopian feminist novel The Handmaid’s Tale.

This week, Slate set a new low by publishing an article entitled,

“Barrett has established who she is: a shameless careerist who believes nobody can stop her.”

It seems that successful women who juggle a family and a career — and pro-lifers who choose to adopt — are only to be respected and admired if they aren’t conservative appointments to the Supreme Court.

Nevertheless, Barrett has remained unruffled, telling the senate this week,

“I’ve tried to be on a media blackout for the sake of my mental health… You can’t keep yourself walled off from everything and I’m aware of a lot of the caricatures that are floating around.”

She went on:

“We knew that our lives would be combed over for any negative detail. We knew that our faith would be caricatured. We knew our family would be attacked. And so we had to decide whether those difficulties would be worth it because what sane person would go through that if there wasn’t a benefit on the other side?”

In a show of memorable humility, Barrett explained,

“I’m not the only person who can do this job. But I was asked, and it would be difficult for anyone. So why should I say someone else should do the difficulty if the difficulty is the only reason to say no?”

Barrett’s integrity is shining bright in an age of partisanship and political point-scoring. Asked how she reigns in her own bias as a judge, Barrett explained,

“One practice I have, one check that I put on myself to make sure that I’m not biased is that when I write an opinion I try to read it from the perspective of the losing party… I try to make the sympathy run the other way to see if… I still think it was a well-reasoned opinion.”

Barrett has also established her textualist and originalist credentials. “Americans of all backgrounds deserve an independent Supreme Court that interprets our Constitution and laws as they are written,” she explained. When asked why textualism and originalism were important to her, Barrett replied:

“Both statutes and the constitution are law. They derive their democratic legitimacy from the fact that they have been enacted… by the people’s representatives… I, as a judge, have an obligation to respect and enforce only that law that the people themselves have embraced… It’s not the law of Amy, it’s the law of the American people…

Originalism and textualism to me boil down to that: to the commitment to the rule of law, to not disturbing or changing or updating or adjusting in line with my own policy preferences what that law requires.”

Barrett is proving to be the Teflon nominee: nothing that her opponents throw at her seems to stick. In fact, she may even win over a handful of Democrat’s senators during the hearings process. Not that she needs them: if the vote falls along partisan lines, as it’s expected to do, Amy Coney Barrett will easily walk through as Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement.

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