Catholic leaders and academics have voiced their support following President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court.
Tributes to the Catholic judge and nominee followed Barrett’s official presentation in the White House Rose Garden Saturday evening, after a week of speculation that she was the president’s choice.
Announcing the selection, Trump called Barrett “one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds,” Trump said, paying tribute to Barrett as “a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the constitution,” and “eminently qualified” for service on the nation’s highest court
Barrett graduated from Rhodes College before receiving a full scholarship to Notre Dame Law School where she graduated first in her class.
Barrett went on to clerk for Judge Laurence Silberman and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, before going into private practice. She returned to Notre Dame Law School and taught classes in 2002 before becoming a professor in 2010. She currently serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, a position to which Trump nominated her in 2017.
Speaking after the nomination was announced, Notre Dame University president Fr. John Jenkins, CSC, paid tribute to Barrett, saying that “the same impressive intellect, character and temperament that made Judge Barrett a successful nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals will serve her and the nation equally well as a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.”
“She is a person of the utmost integrity who, as a jurist, acts first and foremost in accordance with the law,” Jenkins said.
Writing in the Washington Post, John Garvey, an expert in U.S. constitutional law and the president of The Catholic University of America, recalled meeting Barrett when she was a student of his at Notre Dame Law.
“After she graduated from law school,” Garvey said, “I wrote a one-line letter of recommendation for her to [Supreme Court] Justice Antonin Scalia: ‘Amy Coney is the best student I ever had.’ He was wise to hire her as a clerk.”
Bishop Thomas Tobin of Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, also welcomed the announcement, saying on Twitter: “Congratulations to Judge Amy Coney Barrett, now nominated to the Supreme Court. May God bless Judge Coney Barrett and her beautiful family with grace and peace in the challenging days to come.”
President Trump noted on Saturday that Barrett received bipartisan support during her Senate confirmation in 2017 and that as “a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the constitution,” she is “eminently qualified” for service on the nation’s highest court.
Republican Senate leaders have indicated that they will move quickly to schedule confirmation hearings before the Senate judiciary committee and bring Barrett’s nomination to a full vote.
Barrett said Saturday that she “looked forward” to working with members of the Senate during the confirmation process.
“I will do my very best to demonstrate that I am worthy of your support,” she said, while conceding that she had “no illusions that the road ahead of me will be easy, either for the short term or the long haul.”
Judiciary committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he expects hearings to begin on Barrett’s nomination on Oct. 12, but two Democratic members of the committee, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CON), said they would refuse to meet with Barrett prior to the hearings.
In a statement sent to CNA Saturday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a Catholic, called Barrett “a well-qualified, highly respected nominee.”
“That’s why the Senate previously confirmed her,” Rubio said, while also noting that the judge’s Catholic faith would likely feature during the confirmation process.
During Barrett’s 2017 nomination hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questioned her on her personal faith and values, saying that “when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”
In the past week, media criticism has focused on Barrett’s Catholic faith and the size of her family – she has seven children, including two children adopted from Haiti.
On Saturday, Rubio called Barrett “a person who is strong in her faith. Sadly, I expect my Democratic colleagues and the radical left to do all they can to assassinate her character and once again make an issue of her faith during her confirmation process.”
Speaking on Friday, ahead of the formal announcement of Barrett’s nomination, Princeton University professor Robert P. George also noted the anti-Catholic tone of much of the criticism of Barrett.
“I’ll give Amy Barrett’s opponents some good advice, in blissful assurance that they won’t take it,” George said on Twitter.
“Don’t attack her faith. Don’t go near it. Stay a million miles away. Talk about health care, immigration, the weather, anything but religion. It’s not her Achilles heel; it’s yours.”