In Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, as she begins hearings for her nomination to the Supreme Court, she plans to speak of having “humility about the responsibility I have been asked to undertake,” according to a copy of the statement released in advance of the first hearing tomorrow.
Judge Barrett writes that she has “appreciation for those who came before me” and invokes both former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose seat Judge Barrett has been nominated to fill.
“I have been nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat, but no one will ever take her place,” Judge Barrett says in the statement. “I will be forever grateful for the path she marked and the life she led.” The judge, who currently serves in Indiana, plans to speak extensively about her biography and her family. She will also talk about the late Justice Antonin Scalia, with whom she clerked and to whom her supporters have compared her.
“Justice Scalia taught me more than just law,” she writes in the statement. “He was devoted to his family, resolute in his beliefs, and fearless of criticism. 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 says in the statement. “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.”
She also plans to say that courts “are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life. 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.”
She will say that she tries to look at every judicial opinion she writes through “the perspective of the losing party. I ask myself how would I view the decision if one of my children was the party I was ruling against: Even though I would not like the result, would I understand that the decision was fairly reasoned and grounded in the law? That is the standard I set for myself in every case, and it is the standard I will follow as long as I am a judge on any court.”