Who Is Amy Coney Barrett ?

Dear Rich Lifer,

Amy Coney Barrett was officially nominated by President Trump this past Saturday to succeed the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. 

Calling it a “very proud moment indeed,” Trump described Barrett as a woman of “towering intellect” and “unyielding loyalty to the Constitution” who would rule “based solely on the fair reading of the law.”

Trump went on to comment: “I looked and I studied and you are very eminently qualified for this job,” he told Barrett, “You are going to be fantastic.”

There is no doubt this nomination will set off an intense partisan battle due to the push to confirm Barrett before the November Presidential Election. 

Although no Supreme Court Justice has ever been confirmed this close to an election, Republicans have stated they hope to begin the confirmation hearings on October 12, just 16 days from her official nomination.

Republicans expect pushback from Democrats, but appear to have the votes needed to confirm. They have 53 votes in the Senate and therefore can afford three defections if no Democrats vote for the nominee. In that instance, Vice President Mike Pence could be called to break a tie. 

Right now only two Republican Senators (Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine) have opposed the vote. 

While the potential confirmation looms, it seems clear this nominee will likely make it to the highest bench in the land, which leaves many voters questioning which way the presidential election may turn and how it will affect them. 

Today we will attempt to answer the question you might be wondering: who exactly is Amy Coney Barrett? 

Early and Professional Life

Amy Coney Barrett, was born Amy Coney in 1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is the oldest of seven children and her father worked as an attorney for Shell Oil Company while her mother taught French at a local high school. 

She grew up in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans, and graduated from St. Mary’s Dominican High School in 1990. She then went on to study English literature at Rhodes College. She received a full scholarship to study law at Notre Dame Law School where she was executive editor of the Notre Dame Law Review and graduated first in her class in 1997. 

 She married fellow Notre Dame graduate and federal prosecutor, Jesse M. Barrett, in 1999. They have seven children, two of whom are adopted from Haiti, one in 2005 and one in 2010. The Barrett’s youngest child was diagnosed with Down Syndrome during a prenatal screening.

The family resides in South Bend, Indiana and are a practicing Catholic family. 

Professional Life

Upon graduating from law school, Barrett spent two years working as a judicial law clerk, first for Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, then for Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Barrett has called Scalia her mentor and said he had an “incalculable influence” on her.

After her time clerking, she worked for a law firm in Washington, D.C., but in 2002 began working at Notre Dame where she taught federal courts, constitutional law, and statutory interpretation. 

Barrett was named a Professor of Law in 2010, and from 2014 to 2017 held the Diane and M.O. Miller Research Chair of Law. Her academic work has been published in journals such as the Columbia, Cornell, Virginia, Notre Dame, and Texas Law Reviews.

Federal Judicial Service 

In 2017, Trump nominated Barrett to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. 

During her confirmation hearing, she faced intense questioning from Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein who challenged Barrett’s ability to make decisions independent of her Catholic faith. 

In 1998, while serving as an appeals court law clerk, she and a Notre Dame professor wrote that “Catholic judges (if they are faithful to the teaching of their church) are morally precluded from enforcing the death penalty.” 

This led Feinstein to comment, “Whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different …The conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.” 

Barrett responding by stating, 

“My personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge.”

Ultimately, Barrett was confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals by a Senate vote of 55-43, with the backing of three Senate Democrats.

With a mere 26 days until the next presidential election, click here to hear this former government insider’s take on the outcome. 

Notable Decisions

Although Barrett has only served on Appeals for three years, she has signed on to decisions on various issues that are sure to be questioned during her confirmation… 

Abortion – Barrett has never ruled directly on abortion, but she did vote to rehear a successful challenge to Indiana’s parental notification law in 2019. In 2018, she voted against striking down another Indiana law requiring burial or cremation of fetal remains. 

In a 2003 article, she questioned the reluctance of federal courts to overturn dubious precedents that have come to be relied upon by judges and the public, suggesting that a key Supreme Court decision upholding Roe v. Wade and the right to abortion was wrongly decided.

Barrett also remarked that it was “very unlikely” the court would overturn the core of Roe: 

“The fundamental element, that the woman has a right to choose abortion, will probably stand. The controversy right now is about funding. It’s a question of whether abortions will be publicly or privately funded.”

Guns – In a dissent in the 2019 gun-rights case of Kanter v. Barr, Barrett argued that a conviction for a nonviolent felony — in this case, mail fraud — shouldn’t automatically disqualify someone from owning a gun.

Sexual Assault – In Doe v. Purdue University, the court, in a unanimous decision written by Barrett, reinstated a suit brought by a male Purdue University student (John Doe) who had been found guilty of sexual assault by Purdue University.

Immigration – Barrett was in dissent in June when her two colleagues on a 7th circuit panel put on hold — just in Chicago — the Trump administration policy that could jeopardize permanent resident status for immigrants who use food stamps, Medicaid, and housing vouchers.

Under the new policy, immigration officials can deny green cards to legal immigrants over their use of public benefits.

Barrett identifies as an “originalist” meaning the Constitution must be interpreted based on the original understanding of the authors or the people at the time it was ratified. 

If Barrett is confirmed, she will be the youngest judge on the Supreme Court. She will be the third woman (and fifth woman ever), joining Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, and would solidify the court’s conservative majority, joining Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

To a Richer Life,

The Rich Life Roadmap Team 

 

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