Amy Coney Barrett is considered one of the top potential nominees of President Donald Trump to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. But she’s already becoming a controversial figure. Here are some quotes she has said or written over the years and how they reflect her stances on policy.
On Faith & Judging
In a law review article that she co-authored, Barrett said: “Judges cannot — nor should they try to — align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge.”
She later said during her confirmation hearing that if a judge’s morals run against a potential ruling, he might want to step back and recuse himself.
“Were I confirmed as a judge, I would decide cases according to the rule of law beginning to end. In the rare circumstance that might ever arise, I can’t imagine one sitting here now, where I felt some contentious objection to the law, I would recuse. I would never impose my own personal convictions upon the law.”
In her Senate confirmation hearing when asked about a report that implied she didn’t believe a judge should faithfully apply the Constitution when she disagrees with them, Barrett said that was not accurate.
“I totally reject and have rejected throughout my entire career the proposition that the end justifies the means or that a judge should decide cases based on a desire to reach a certain outcome,” she said.
She addressed this yet again during the hearing when she said: “If you’re asking whether I take my Catholic faith seriously, I do, though I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear on the discharge of my duties as a judge.”
In a talk to Notre Dame graduates in 2006, a transcript reportedly showed her saying: (A) legal career is but a means to an end . . . and that end is building the Kingdom of God… If you can keep in mind that your fundamental purpose in life is not to be a lawyer, but to know, love and serve God, you truly will be a different kind of lawyer.” This was reported by Rick Garnett in his legal blog, where he talked about reading her transcript and what an impact it made on him, and by Fox News.
On Overruling Previous Supreme Court Decisions
In a journal article that she wrote in 2013, Barrett said that a Supreme Court ruling could be overruled if it doesn’t match current Justices’ interpretation of the Constitution.
“Does the court act lawlessly—or at least questionably—when it overrules precedent? I tend to agree with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks is clearly in conflict with it. That itself serves an important rule-of-law value.”
On Abortion and Roe v. Wade
When asked about her personal feelings regarding Roe v. Wade during her 2017 confirmation hearing, she said: “I’m sure every nominee before you would have personal beliefs about that precedent and many others. But all nominees are united in their belief that what they think about a precedent should not bear on how they will decide cases.”
Regarding the chances of Roe v. Wade being overturned, she said: “I don’t think the core case — Roe’s holding that women have a right to abortion — I don’t think that will change…” But she implied that other facets, such as late-term abortions, might.
In a lecture series at Notre Dame, she said the Roe v. Wade question was unduly weighing on Supreme Court nominations.
“Republicans are heavily invested in getting judges who will overturn Roe [v. Wade], and Democrats are heavily invested in getting judges who will preserve the central holding of Roe [v. Wade]. As a result, there have been divisive confirmation battles of a sort not seen before.”
Roe v. Wade won’t be overturned, she said, but funding could be questioned.
“I think it is very unlikely at this point that the court is going to overturn Roe [v. Wade], or Roe [v. Wade] as curbed by [Planned Parenthood v.] Casey. The fundamental element, that the woman has a right to choose abortion, will probably stand. The controversy right now is about funding. It’s a question of whether abortions will be publicly or privately funded.”
The best way to reduce abortions, she said in the same lecture, was by supporting poor, single moms.
“I think supporting poor, single mothers would be the best way to reduce the number of abortions in the U.S.”
If you want to see Barrett’s quotes for yourself, you can watch her confirmation hearing on CSPAN here.