Amy Barrett, who is Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the United States Supreme Court, has a large family with her husband, Jesse, who is a former federal prosecutor in Indiana. How many children does Amy Coney Barrett have?
The answer: Barrett, a federal judge, has seven children with her husband. Two of the couple’s children were born in Haiti, and the Barretts also have a special needs child. When she testified in fall 2017 during her confirmation hearing to the federal bench, Barrett’s children ranged in age from 5 to 16. Her husband is now in private practice. President Trump described Barrett’s bond with her youngest son, who has Down Syndrome, as an “inspiration,” and he said that she would be the first mother of school-age children to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Amy Barrett, who is 48-years-old, filled out a Judiciary Committee questionnaire when she was first nominated to the federal bench by Trump. You can read it here. She was confirmed in 2017.
Here’s what you need to know about Barrett’s children:
1. Former Notre Dame Law School Students & Graduates Called Barrett’s Raising of Seven Children ‘a Remarkable Feat’
Amy Coney Barrett is many things; in addition to a mother and wife, she is a lawyer, a former law school professor, a clerk for Antonin Scalia, and now a federal judge who sits on the 7th Circuit. In addition to that lengthy resume, she has found the time to mother seven children, an accomplishment that a group of Notre Dame Law School students and graduates mentioned in a letter urging her appointment as a federal judge.
A letter supporting Amy Barrett’s nomination as a federal judge from former students and graduates of Notre Dame Law School said, “Professor Barrett and her husband, Jesse, are raising seven children—a remarkable feat in itself. Professor Barrett’s dedication as a spouse and mother alongside her stellar teaching and scholarship represents the epitome of Notre Dame Law School’s challenge for its graduates to be ‘a different kind of lawyer.’”
You can see photos of Jesse Barrett at his wife’s investiture.
2. Barrett’s Three Oldest Daughters Accompanied Her to Her Confirmation Hearing
During her confirmation hearing to the federal bench, Amy Barrett spoke at length about her family. She said that her husband “serves our country” as an assistant United States Attorney in the northern district of Indiana and added, “I hit the jackpot when I married Jesse. We have been married 18 years with each year better than the last. Jesse and I have seven children.”
She said she was accompanied to the hearing by their three oldest daughters of seven children.
“Emma is 16. The first apple of our eye,” Barrett told the Judiciary Committee. “Vivian, directly next to Emma, is 13. Vivian is our miracle. Vivian joined our family… She was born in Haiti. She came home when she was 14-months-old, and she weighed 11 pounds and she was so weak we were told she might never walk normally or speak. Today Vivian is a track star, and I assure you she has no trouble talking. Tess, sitting next to Vivian, is also 13-years-old. Both in 8th grade. She’s one of the most compassionate and determined people that I know.”
3. Amy Barrett is Raising a Special Needs Child
During the confirmation hearing, Barrett also revealed that she and her husband are raising a special needs child and that they also have a second child who was born in Haiti.
“Our four children at home are with friends and fearless babysitters. John Peter is 10. He was born in Haiti. He joined our family in 2010 when he was three years old after the devastating earthquake,” she said.
“Liam is 8. Typically curious 8-year-old. And Juliet is our spunky 6-year-old. Benjamin, our youngest, is five. He has special needs. That presents unique challenges for all of us. But I think all you need to know about Benjamin’s place in the family is summed up by the fact the other children unreservedly identify him as their favorite sibling.”
Barrett’s parents were also at the hearing. “I have with me my parents. Mike and Linda. They traveled from Louisiana. Where I was born and raised. And it is impossible to overstate the impact that their support and example have had in my life,” she said.
4. Amy Barrett, Her Husband & Their Family Are Devout Catholics Who Belong to a Community Called ‘People of Praise’
According to National Review, Amy Coney Barrett is a devout Catholic. “…she speaks about God as if she really believes in His existence,” the conservative website reported of Barrett’s faith.
In 2017, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) caused controversy when Barrett was nominated to the federal appellate court by bringing up her religion and saying she was concerned “the dogma lives loudly within you.”
In a graduation speech, Barrett referenced God, saying, “No matter how exciting any career is, what is it really worth if you don’t make it part of a bigger life project to know, love and serve the God who made you?”
In addition, Amy Coney Barrett belongs to a “small, tightly knit Christian group called People of Praise,” The New York Times reported in September 2017. According to The Times, the group’s members “swear a lifelong oath of loyalty, called a covenant, to one another, and are assigned and are accountable to a personal adviser, called a ‘head’ for men and a ‘handmaid’ (now woman leader) for women. The group teaches that husbands are the heads of their wives and should take authority over the family.”
The Times reports that members of the group take direction from the heads and handmaids (or woman leader) on major decisions, even down to whom they marry. According to the Times’ interviews with current and former members, Barrett, her husband, and both of their fathers are members of the group.
An article in the group’s magazine once reported that Barrett and her husband had adopted a child but articles mentioning her have been removed, according to The Times. A man whose Twitter page identifies him as a member of the People of Praise wrote on Twitter in 2010, “+1 (equals 6 kids now) to the Jesse & Amy Barrett clan! Welcome, Juliet Jeanne! Praise God!”
In 2009, the same man wrote on Twitter, “dinner @ jesse & amy barrett’s last night…”
Barrett’s parents are Michael and Linda Coney.
Heavy reached out to People of Praise and asked whether it’s true that Amy Barrett, her husband, and their fathers are members of People of Praise. “The People of Praise does not publicly disclose membership information. Members are free to speak publicly on their own behalf,” Sean Connelly, media contact for the community, responded.
Connelly provided Heavy with a “People of Praise fact sheet.”
He also provided the following statement:
The People of Praise is an ecumenical, charismatic, covenant community. Our model and inspiration is the first Christian community, a small band of disciples who ‘were of one heart and soul’ and ‘held all things in common.’ (Acts 4:33, 2:44).
A majority of People of Praise members are Catholic, and yet the People of Praise is not a Catholic group. We aim to be a witness to the unity Jesus desires for all his followers. Our membership includes not only Catholics but Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Pentecostals and nondenominational Christians. What we share is a common baptism, a commitment to love one another and our teachings, which we hold in common.
Freedom of conscience is a key to our diversity. People of Praise members are always free to follow their consciences, as formed by the light of reason, experience and the teachings of their churches.
Regarding handmaids, the People of Praise has both male and female leaders. For many years, we referred to our female leaders as handmaids, following the use of the term by Mary, Jesus’s mother, who calls herself ‘the handmaid of the Lord,’ as reported in the Bible (Lk. 1:38). Recognizing that the meaning of this term has shifted dramatically in our culture in recent years, we no longer use the term handmaid to describe those women who are leaders in the People of Praise.
The Catholic League wrote an article challenging depictions of People of Praise as a cult and arguing Barrett is unfairly subjected to scrutiny for her Catholicism, writing, “Among other things, it operates interracial schools and camps, and provides for many family outings; members often travel together. Is it a Catholic fringe group? No, for if it were, Pope Francis would not have welcomed it in June: he celebrated with them, and others, the 50th anniversary of the Catholic charismatic renewal; the event drew over 30,000 people from 128 countries.”
You can read more about the People of Praise here:
5. Jesse M. Barrett Met His Wife in Law School
Jesse Barrett’s LinkedIn page says he was a prosecutor based in the South Bend, Indiana area. He’s now in private practice.
According to Notre Dame Law School, Barrett’s husband Jesse Barrett, who has a law degree from the university, “earned a standing ovation after he delivered a touching speech about his wife’s gift for empathy and personal relationships” during her investiture to the federal judiciary.
“The couple met at Notre Dame Law School, and he talked about the many changes they have experienced together as they have lived in different cities, houses, and apartments, and brought seven children into their lives,” the Law School article states, quoting Jesse Barrett as saying, “But there is one thing that hasn’t changed – it is humbling to be married to Amy Barrett. You can’t outwork Amy. I’ve also learned you can’t outfriend Amy.”