U.S. Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who has been nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 30, 2020.
Sarah Silbiger | Pool | Reuters
Judge Amy Coney Barrett will focus on her family in the opening statement of her Supreme Court confirmation hearings set to begin on Monday, according to prepared remarks obtained by NBC News.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge, whom Trump officially nominated to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month, avoids mentioning the controversies swirling around her appointment in the four-page statement.
Barrett will instead introduce the Judiciary Committee to her seven children and praise her legal mentors and Ginsburg. The 48-year-old will say that becoming a Supreme Court justice was “not a position I had sought out, and I thought carefully before accepting.”
“I chose to accept the nomination because I believe deeply in the rule of law and the place of the Supreme Court in our Nation,” she will say. “I believe Americans of all backgrounds deserve an independent Supreme Court that interprets our Constitution and laws as they are written.”
Barrett will also say that in her view, courts should steer away from making policy judgments.
“The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the people,” she will say. “The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try.”
Democrats have pushed for Ginsburg’s seat to remain empty until after the Nov. 3 presidential election, but Trump and his congressional allies are seeking to get Barrett on the bench as quickly as possible.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News earlier Sunday that he expected the committee to approve Barrett by Oct. 22, and for the full Senate to confirm her a week before Election Day.
The spreading pandemic threatened to derail the hearings after several Republican senators became ill. As a precaution, Graham, who is looking for a political win as he faces an increasingly tight reelection battle, has said that senators may attend the hearings virtually.
In her opening statement, Barrett does not refer to her views on abortion or the Affordable Care Act, which critics of her nomination have seized on. She will allude to her religious views, which have also been fodder for attacks.
“I believe in the power of prayer, and it has been uplifting to hear that so many people are praying for me,” she will say.
Barrett will also use the speech to praise Ginsburg, saying she was “nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat, but no one will ever take her place. I will be forever grateful for the path she marked and the life she led.”
Early in her career, Barrett clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who was an ideological opponent and personal friend of Ginsburg’s. Barrett will say that Scalia “taught me more than just law.”
“He was devoted to his family, resolute in his beliefs, and fearless of criticism,” she will say. “And as I embarked on my own legal career, I resolved to maintain that same perspective.”
“There is a tendency in our profession to treat the practice of law as all-consuming, while losing sight of everything else. But that makes for a shallow and unfulfilling life,” she will add. “I worked hard as a lawyer and a professor; I owed that to my clients, my students, and myself. But I never let the law define my identity or crowd out the rest of my life.”
Barrett will be introduced on Monday by Indiana’s two senators, Republican Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun, as well as Patricia O’Hara, a law professor at Notre Dame Law School.