Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will tell the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday that it will not be her job as a justice on the country’s highest court to determine the law of the land, according to her released opening statement.
Her comments are clearly referencing Democratic criticisms that she intends to overturn Roe v. Wade—something she will claim is the responsibility of Congress and “the political branches elected by and accountable to the People.”
As Axios reports, in Barrett’s opening statement, she will say that “policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the People.”
After she thanks the president for her nomination and the members of the committee for holding a confirmation hearing, Barrett shares details about her family again thanking them for supporting her throughout her career and the upcoming process.
“My father was a lawyer and my mother was a teacher, which explains how I
ended up as a law professor. More importantly, my parents modeled for me and my
six siblings a life of service, principle, faith, and love,” she said.
She then segues into the encouragement she has received from her parents, who intend on attending the confirmation hearing, and her law school professors and friends. She specifically names the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who she clerked for.
She will say: I was fortunate to have wonderful legal mentors—in particular, the judges for whom I clerked. The legendary Judge Laurence Silberman of the D.C. Circuit gave me my first job in the law and continues to teach me today. He was by my side during my Seventh Circuit hearing and investiture, and he is cheering me on from his living room now.”
“I also clerked for Justice Scalia, and like many law students, I felt like I knew the justice before I ever met him, because I had read so many of his colorful, accessible opinions. More than the style of his writing, though, it was the content of Justice Scalia’s reasoning that shaped me,” Barrett will say.
She continues: “His judicial philosophy was straightforward: A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were. Sometimes that approach meant reaching results that he did not like. But as he put it in one of his best-known opinions, that is what it means to say we have a government of laws, not of men.”
Her relationship to the conservative justice and their respective shared ideology will likely be a point of contention by the committee’s more liberal members.
Barrett will say Scalia’s and her view on the law extends to the courts as well—they are not to necessarily solve society’s problems but interpret the law as it is written and allow Congress to legislate.
“Courts have a vital responsibility to enforce the rule of law, which is critical to a free society. But courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life,” she will say.
“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,” Barrett adds.
She continues: “I believe Americans of all backgrounds deserve an independent Supreme Court that interprets our Constitution and laws as they are written. And I believe I can serve my country by playing that role.”
Read her full statement by clicking here: Opening Statement at Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Monday, October 12, 2020