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Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court is now official. The former Notre Dame Law School graduate and professor will now take the next step to a seat on the Supreme Court.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Barrett enjoys the widespread and often passionate support of colleagues stretching back to her days as a clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia 20 years ago.
Fellow clerks nicknamed Barrett “The Conenator” — a play on her maiden name and reputation for destroying flimsy legal arguments.
I will admit I’m biased in being pleased that President Trump nominated her for the Supreme Court. She did not demolish flimsy legal arguments with personal attacks.
She is an originalist.
Like Scalia, her former boss and mentor, Barrett has a conservative bent and considers herself a public meaning originalist who strictly applies the intent of the authors of the Constitution or other governing laws at the time they were written.
Barrett’s originalist mindset was on display in 2018 when she cited centuries-old laws in Britain and elsewhere in a dissent over a 7th Circuit appeal involving a Wisconsin man convicted of being a felon in possession of a handgun.
While Barrett’s colleagues ruled that Wisconsin’s law barring felons from having firearms was constitutional, Barrett wrote that since the plaintiff had been convicted of a white collar crime, he was not inherently dangerous.
“Founding-era legislatures did not strip felons of the right to bear arms simply because of their status as felons,” Barrett wrote in her dissent, which said the Wisconsin law should be declared unconstitutional. “In 1791 — and for well more than a century afterward — legislatures disqualified categories of people from the right to bear arms only when they judged that doing so was necessary to protect the public safety.”
I’m biased because I received an education, in spite of my best efforts to resist it, from the priests and brothers of the Congregation Holy Cross, the founders, and still in charge at Notre Dame. I attended a much smaller university that is run by these same priests and brothers. Respectful debate and discussion were encouraged. There was disagreement but reasoned expression of ideas, to include politely pointing out flaws in premises and their conclusions was the rule.
As my priest-professor of philosophy would sometimes ask me in class; Mr. Watt, on what authority is your statement based upon? I’m sure that Judge Barrett would be on much firmer ground than I was if she was asked the same question.Published in