Former federal prosecutor: High court nominee Barrett has ‘remarkable’ record, applies law as written
For University of St. Thomas Law professor Rachel Paulose, Amy Coney Barrett’s appearance at the White House on Saturday was a historic moment.
“As a woman, as a lawyer, I was incredibly moved by the sight of Judge Barrett standing with the president today,” Paulose said. "There has been only one other time in history when a Republican president has nominated a woman to the United States Supreme Court, and that was 40 years ago, with President Reagan nominating Sandra Day O’Connor."
Paulose, a former federal prosecutor, calls Barrett’s high court nomination a great day for America, the judiciary and for women in particular.
“Her credentials are incredibly impressive; her record is remarkable, as well as the praise she’s gotten on both sides of the aisle,” Paulose says. “A remarkable person who is doing what so many women across the country have to do every day, which is to balance family and work with excellence and commitment and sacrifice.”
She adds it’s no secret that Barrett is considered a conservative.
Despite a short three years on the federal bench, Barrett is already well known in conservative circles as a devout Catholic, anti-abortion, and pro-Second Amendment.
But Paulose notes the 48-year-old nominee has declared that judges are not supposed to be policy-makers.
"She’s said repeatedly over the years a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not to make it,” she says. “This is someone who has expressed her own private views as to her faith and her convictions, but as a judge has applied the law as written.”
If she’s confirmed, Barrett could vote on issues like abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act.
But Paulose says it would be a mistake to pigeonhole Barrett.
“I think it’d be very dangerous if we made any one Supreme Court case the litmus test for every justice,” she said. “Judge Barrett upheld a state law that prevented sidewalk counselors from approaching women who were seeking abortions. She has criticized the Affordable Care Act, but she’s also noted the Supreme Court went out of its way to save the statute.”
Then there’s the timing of Bennett’s nomination.
Democrats say this is way too close to Election Day and that whoever is elected Nov. 3 should nominate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor.
But Republicans say the law is on their side — and Paulose says they’re right.
“The president has the majority of votes in the U.S. Senate, he’s been elected to serve until Jan. 20, 2021,” she said. “The Constitution allows him to nominate someone to fill the vacancy created. If the voters disagree, they can certainly take that into account when they vote this fall.”
Barrett went through a bruising confirmation fight in 2017 for her seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals but was nevertheless confirmed 55-43.
This next chapter for her comes as Senate Republicans are fighting to keep the majority.
The Senate has never confirmed a Supreme Court nominee between July and November during an election year.
Paulose says there are no certainties if Barrett joins the high court.
“Justice Barrett would be the first U.S. Supreme Court Justice to be the mother of school-age children. That’s a great message to send to the working women of America,” she said. “I also don’t think we can predict with certainty which way a justice will vote. Leadership sometimes changes people.”