Senate Advances “One of the Most Qualified Nominees for Judicial Service that We Have Seen in our Lifetimes”
‘Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is a stellar nominee in every respect. Her intellectual brilliance is unquestioned. Her command of the law is remarkable. Her integrity is above reproach.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Judge Amy Coney Barrett:
“Quote: ‘Few men [in] society… will have sufficient skill in the laws to qualify them for the stations of judges… [And] the number must be still smaller of those who unite the requisite integrity with the requisite knowledge.’
“That was Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 78.
“The framers knew the independent judiciary would be a crucial part of this new experiment in self-government. If the separation of powers was to endure and the people’s rights were to be safe, we would need individuals of the highest quality on the courts.
“How fortunate for our country that the Senate just advanced one of the most qualified nominees for judicial service that we have seen in our lifetimes.
“Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is a stellar nominee in every respect. Her intellectual brilliance is unquestioned. Her command of the law is remarkable. Her integrity is above reproach.
“First as an award-winning academic and then as a circuit judge, she has worked her way up to the pinnacle of the law.
“But just as importantly, Judge Barrett has displayed zero willingness to impose personal views or clumsily craft new policy with her gavel. She has demonstrated the judicial humility, the neutrality, and the commitment to our written Constitution that are essential for this office.
“By now, as tends to happen by the ends of these processes, the Senate knows Judge Barrett very well.
“Senators saw the Judiciary Committee put the nominee through her paces with days of exhaustive questioning.
“We’ve been able to study nearly 100 opinions she has issued in three years on the federal bench.
“We’ve had another opportunity to examine the 15 years of scholarly writings that most of us reviewed three years ago, when Judge Barrett won bipartisan confirmation to her current job.
“And we’ve been deluged by personal testimonials from every corner of Judge Barrett’s career and life to confirm just what a remarkable person this nominee is.
“One of Judge Barrett’s former colleagues at Notre Dame is a leading expert in comparative constitutional law. That means he studies the courts and constitutions of countries all around the world. He meets judges from across the planet.
“Here’s what this expert says about his colleague: ‘I have had very many occasions to meet, observe, and work with high court judges from all over the world, from Argentina to Austria… from South Africa to South Korea… [and] I can say with great certainty that Judge Barrett stands out, on a par in her abilities with the most distinguished” of them all.’
“He says her legal work is ‘as erudite as it [is] clear and accessible,’ and ‘as honest and fair-minded… as anyone could aspire to, with not a hint of personal bias.’
“Most of us would be thrilled to receive such praise once or twice in our whole career. But Judge Barrett seems to provoke this reaction in everyone. The highest professional compliments seem to be the default reaction from anybody who crosses her path.
“Eighty-one of her law school classmates from ‘diverse backgrounds, political affiliations, and philosophies” say the nominee embodies “the highest caliber of intellect… fairmindedness, empathy, integrity, humility, good humor, and commitment to justice.’
“They also said ‘as fellow students, we often learned more from Amy than the professor.’
Three years ago, more than 70 fellow scholars wrote the Senate calling her scholarship ‘careful,’ ‘rigorous [and] fair-minded.’ They said her ‘personal integrity’ earns wide respect.
“And every one of the Supreme Court alumni who clerked alongside Judge Barrett wrote us to share their ‘unanimous’ view that she is a ‘woman of remarkable intellect and character.’
“That clerkship came about, by the way, after one of her professors who is now a university president wrote Justice Scalia with one sentence: ‘Amy Coney is the best student I ever had.’
“A few weeks ago, Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman — who leans left — wrote that Judge Barrett is “a brilliant and conscientious lawyer who will analyze and decide cases in good faith.” He said she ‘meets and exceeds’ the ‘basic criteria for being a good Justice.’
“No wonder that for all the acrimony that has swirled around this process, nobody has even attempted to dispute Judge Barrett’s qualifications.
“To the contrary — it seems no one can help being impressed. At one point during Judge Barrett’s hearing, she was asked about an arcane legal doctrine. Her answer was so clear and so accessible that one of our Democratic colleagues had to remark: ‘that’s quite a definition. I’m really impressed.’
“So are the American people.
“Some opponents of this nomination come right out and say, quote, ‘it’s not about qualifications.’ They say they aren’t interested in whether Judge Barrett will smartly and faithfully apply our laws and Constitution. Instead, they want to make apocalyptic predictions about policy.
“There are a few problems here.
“One is that their political side has been shopping the same horror stories for fifty years. They’ve been saying the same thing for half a century about every Supreme Court nominee by a Republican president. Without exception.
“And many of those judges, not to the delight of some people on this side of the aisle, went on to not disappoint the other side. Which shows you how hazardous it is to predict what someone will be for a lifetime. Many have been surprised, some unpleasantly.
“It’s almost if jurists are not politicians with policy platforms. It’s almost as though that’s the wrong way to look at this.
“This is the deeper misunderstanding at play here.
“Let me quote an expert: ‘A judge must apply the law as written, not as she wishes it were.’
“Scalia used to put it this way. He said, ‘if you want to make policy, why don’t you run for office? That’s not what we do here. That’s not our job.’
“It takes a great deal of discipline to squeeze your personal opinions out of your decision making. That’s the kind of judges we’ve been confirming here for the last four years. People who are sworn to uphold the law — and take it seriously.
“President Obama once said he wanted to appoint judges who had empathy.
“Think about it for a minute. If you are the litigant for whom the judge has empathy, you are probably in pretty good shape. But what if you aren’t?
“That’s not what we’ve been doing here for the last four years on the judiciary. And the reason that frightens these guys on the other side so much is because that’s exactly what they want: Another branch of legislators seeking outcomes that may or may not be reflected in the law or Constitution that’s before them. That’s exactly what they want.
“Quote: ‘Courts have a vital responsibility to enforce the rule of law, which is critical to a free society. But 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.’
“That, of course, was Judge Barrett. She understands the separation of powers far more keenly than her critics. She understands the job of a judge.
“Our Democratic colleagues should not have tried to filibuster this exceptional nominee; they should have listened and learned.
“I loved during the hearing when Senator Cornyn said ‘what do you have on your notepad?’
“She held it up. Nothing. No notes at all.
“We’ve got three former Supreme Court clerks on that committee – Senator Cruz, Senator Hawley, and Senator Lee. So they’ve been around the best, at the highest level. Nobody has seen anything better than this.
“This is something to really be proud of and feel good about. We’ve made an important contribution to the future of this country.
“A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be done, sooner or later, by the next election.
“But the other side won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come. And fortunately for Judge Barrett and for our nation, history will remember what is already clear: The deficiency is with their judgment, not hers.
“The Senate is doing the right thing. We’re moving this nomination forward.
“By tomorrow night, we’ll have a new member of the United States Supreme Court.”
Related Issues: Supreme Court, Senate Democrats, Judicial Nominations