President Trump announced that he would nominate a woman to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. That nominee should be Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
But not because Barrett is the best woman for the job. President Trump should nominate Barrett because she’s the best person for the job. Full stop.
This isn’t the first time Barrett has been discussed as a possible Supreme Court nominee. And rightfully so. She’s a brilliant legal mind, and she comes with impeccable credentials.
She graduated first in her class at Notre Dame Law School, where she served as executive editor of the Notre Dame Law Review. She then went on to highly sought-after clerkships with Judge Laurence Silberman of the D.C. Circuit and Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
Every other lawyer who clerked at the Supreme Court the same year as Barrett said she was a “woman of remarkable intellect and character,” who “treated with courtesy everyone who worked at the Court” and who “work[ed] collaboratively with her colleagues (even those with whom she disagreed).”
Those clerkships jump-started a career as a brilliant legal scholar: Barrett has published numerous academic articles in prestigious journals such as the Columbia Law Review. She also taught at her alma mater for 15 years, and was even named Notre Dame Law School’s distinguished professor of the year on three separate occasions.
What’s more, during her time as a professor, Barrett was recognized by the chief justice, who appointed her to serve on the U.S. Advisory Committee for the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.
Then, in 2017, President Trump nominated Barrett to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Confirmed 55-43, the only critique Democrats could muster was a baseless attack on her faith—an attack Barrett handled with grace and which catapulted her into national attention. It even inspired the conservative Judicial Crisis Network to sell mugs emblazoned with Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s reviled quotation, “the dogma lives loudly within you.”
But perhaps more importantly, the courage Barrett demonstrated shows she has the fortitude to withstand the vicious confirmation fight to come.
As a judge, Barrett has never shied away from contentious legal questions. In fact, she’s taken them head-on. In one case, she criticized her court for treating the Second Amendment as a “second class right.” In another, Barrett’s colleagues struck down an Indiana law that sought to prevent abortions based solely on the child’s sex, race, or disability.
Needless to say, Barrett disagreed and voted to rehear the case. She has also written powerful defenses of due process protections under Title IX and the president’s authority over immigration decisions.
As a justice on the Supreme Court, Barrett would stay true to her demonstrated commitment to the Constitution. Like Justice Scalia, Judge Barrett is a dyed-in-the-wool originalist. She interprets the Constitution as written. As she put it, “We agreed to live by the Constitution until it is lawfully changed, and judges can’t change it. That’s not democratic.”
Any flexibility in the Constitution is given “to democratic majorities to meet changing times by passing legislation. The Constitution isn’t the panacea that cures every societal problem. We have to trust our political branches to do that.” Barrett is absolutely right.
In short, President Trump should nominate Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court. She has the charisma and intelligence to be an iconic conservative justice, just like her former boss and mentor, Justice Antonin Scalia.
And yes, she’s a role model for women and girls. But she doesn’t deserve this nomination because of her sex. She deserves it because she is the best choice.