High court choice Amy Coney Barrett is Scalia’s heiress


CHICAGO – Although Amy Coney Barrett is the president’s choice to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she is more aptly described as the heir to another late Supreme Court justice: Tory hero Antonin Scalia. Like Scalia, for whom she was once a clerk, she is a committed Roman Catholic and a follower of her privileged interpretation of the Constitution known as originalism. These qualifications delight many on the right, but dismay Liberals who fear his votes will lead to the crumbling of some laws, especially the Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion.

US President Donald Trump appointed the 48-year-old South Bend, Indiana Federal Court Appeals Judge at a press conference in Rose Garden on Saturday.

In remarks moments after Trump named her, with her husband and their seven children on the hunt, Barrett paid tribute to Ginsburg.

“I will remember who came before me,” she said, citing Ginsburg’s career as a pioneer of women’s rights. “She not only broke the glass ceilings, she shattered them. ”

But Barrett also pointed out how she is, in her approach to law, a polar opposite to Ginsburg.

She said of Scalia: “His judicial philosophy is mine too. ”

His appointment puts Barrett on the path to helping the Conservatives dominate the court for decades. It is as sure to energize the president’s base as it is to galvanize his enemies as Election Day approaches. Republican Senate leaders have said they have the votes to confirm it this year, possibly ahead of the November election.

Beyond the election, Barrett’s elevation could lead to a national judgment on abortion, an issue that has bitterly divided many Americans for nearly half a century. The idea of ​​spilling or dumping Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision, has been a heated political issue exploited by both sides.

His writings and speeches show a commitment to originalism, a concept that involves judges striving to decipher the original meanings of texts to assess whether a person’s rights have been violated. Many liberals say this approach is too rigid and does not allow the consequences of the Constitution to adapt to the changing times.

Regarding abortion, questions have arisen about Barrett’s involvement in organizations that vigorously oppose him. But she has not said publicly that she would seek, if given the chance, to reduce the rights asserted by the High Court.

Barrett has been a federal judge since 2017, when Trump appointed her to the Chicago-based 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals. But as a longtime law professor at the University of Notre Dame, she had already established herself as a reliable curator in the Scalia mold.

She gained a reputation as a Scalia clerk in the late 1990s as brilliant and adept at separating ill-reasoned arguments. Ara Lovitt, who worked with her, recalled during her inauguration ceremony for the 7th Circuit that Scalia had praised her.

“Isn’t Amy great,” Lovitt recalls telling Scalia.

On Saturday Barrett also referred to the close friendship between Ginsburg and fellow opera enthusiast Scalia, saying Ginsburg has shown judges can disagree on “no hard feelings in person.”

Before becoming a judge, Barrett explained how court precedents bring welcome stability to the law. But she seemed to leave the door open to the possibility of overturning those on which there remained strong disagreement.

“Once a precedent is deeply entrenched,” according to a 2017 article in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitution Law, which Barrett co-wrote, “the court is no longer required to deal with the issue of accuracy of the precedent ”. But he added: “None of this is to say that a judge cannot attempt to overturn a long-established precedent. While institutional characteristics may hamper this effort, a judge is free to try. ”

Barrett and her husband, Jesse Barrett, a former federal prosecutor, are both graduates of Notre Dame Law School. Their seven children include two adoptees from Haiti and one with special needs.

Trump said on Saturday that Barrett would be the first female judge to serve with young children. Looking at her children in the front row, the president said, “Thank you for sharing your mother. ”

Barrett is said to be the only judge on the current court not to have graduated in law from an Ivy League school. The current eight judges have all attended Harvard or Yale.

If confirmed, six of the nine judges will be Catholic.

How his religious beliefs might guide his legal opinions became a major concern for some Democrats in murderous confirmation hearings after Barrett’s 7th Circuit nomination. This prompted Republicans to accuse Democrats of seeking to impose a religious test on Barrett’s suitability for the job.

At Notre Dame, where Barrett began teaching at age 30, she often invoked God in articles and speeches. In a 2006 address, she encouraged law graduate students to see their careers as a way to “build the kingdom of God”.

She was considered a 2018 finalist for the high court before Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the seat that opened when Judge Anthony Kennedy retired. Even some Tories were concerned that her sparse court record would make it too difficult to predict how she might govern, fearing that she might end up like other Tories apparently who found themselves more moderate.

Three years later, her dossier now includes a hundred opinions and dissent, in which she has often exemplified Scalia’s influence by delving deep into historical detail to glean meaning from the original texts.

In a 2019 dissent in a gun rights case, Barrett argued that a person convicted of a non-violent crime should not automatically be banned from owning a gun. All but a few of his 37-page dissent were devoted to the history of gun laws in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Barrett has twice joined in dissenting opinions calling for abortion-related decisions to be overturned and repeated by the full court. Last year, after a three-judge panel blocked an Indiana law that would make it harder for minors to have an abortion without notifying his parents, Barrett voted to have the case repeated by the court.

Barrett’s financial information shows links to a number of conservative groups. She and her husband have investments worth between $ 845,000 and $ 2.8 million, according to her 2019 financial disclosure report. Judges report the value of their investments in the ranges. Their money is mostly invested in mutual funds.

When appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2017, Barrett declared assets of just over $ 2 million, including her home in Indiana valued at nearly $ 425,000 and a mortgage with a balance of $ 175,000.

In the previous two years, Barrett received $ 4,200 in two equal installments from Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian law firm, according to his financial report. In 2018 and 2019, she participated in 10 events sponsored by the Federalist Society, which paid for her transportation, meals and accommodation in several cities.

Barrett grew up in New Orleans and was the eldest of a Shell Oil Co. lawyer. She received her undergraduate degree in English Literature in 1994 from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

She was also a clerk for Laurence Silberman for a year at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Between internships and entry into academia, she worked from 1999 to 2001 in a Washington law firm, Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin.


Associated Press editors Mark Sherman in Washington and Ryan J. Foley in Iowa City, Iowa, contributed to this report.


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