This week, I was proud to vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to serve on the Supreme Court. She is an impressive person and a distinguished legal scholar who is well qualified for the job. In fact, the American Bar Association judges her to be “well qualified”, their highest rating. All of America got to see her demonstrate her deep knowledge of the law and her thoughtful, calm approach in the confirmation hearings.
In the confirmation process, Judge Barrett received support across the board. As a law professor at Notre Dame Law School, she won the Distinguished Teaching award three times. Both her fellow professors and her former students spoke highly of her, regardless of their political views or legal philosophies. About three years ago, Judge Barrett was confirmed by a bipartisan vote in the senate for the Circuit Court, one step below the Supreme Court. Her body of work as a 7th Circuit judge puts her, as one opinion piece put it, “at the center of the mainstream consensus on the judge’s role as an arbiter, not a lawmaker, who abides by the duty to enforce the law as written.”
I was also impressed by her personal story and her commitment to her faith, family, and profession. After earning a full scholarship to Notre Dame Law and graduating first in her class, she earned a prestigious clerkship on the Supreme Court for Justice Antonin Scalia. She then built an exceptional career in the law in private practice, in academia, and on the Seventh Circuit.
Those who know her best have attested to her character, as well. In one op-ed, current and former students of Judge Barrett’s at Notre Dame Law School described her as “a woman of both profound intellect and depth of heart,” and someone who “has enriched the lives of all who have come to know her at Notre Dame Law School.” Having watched her in the confirmation process, a majority of Americans favored her confirmation according to the results of multiple public surveys.
I had the chance to meet with Judge Barrett to ask her questions and follow up on her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. During that meeting I was impressed by her command of the law, as well as her thoughtful responses to my questions.
Importantly, she reiterated that she will interpret the text of the Constitution and the laws as they are written, rather than through the lens of her own policy or personal preferences. I appreciate that modest approach — it leaves the legislating to the representatives elected by the people, rather than unelected judges.
Judge Barrett is undoubtedly well suited for this important job, and I believe she will make people proud and help to uphold the reputation of the U.S. Supreme Court. Her judicial philosophy lines up with what most Americans think is right for the Court – to take a fair-minded approach to legal issues, adhere to the Constitution and statutory text, and not legislate from the bench. I look forward to watching Justice Barrett’s long and successful career on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Rob Portman is a Republican U.S. Senator representing Ohio.