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US Senate reschedules hearing for 7th Circuit nominee Barrett

August 7, 2017

Notre Dame School of Law professor Amy Coney Barrett will appear before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Sept. 6 for the hearing on her nomination to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Barrett was nominated by President Donald Trump to the Indiana seat on the Chicago appellate court in May. The Senate hearing was previously scheduled for Aug. 8 but it has been pushed back until after the Labor Day holiday. Currently, Barrett is the only witness listed on the agenda.

A 1997 summa cum laude graduate from Notre Dame Law School, Barrett clerked for Scalia during the Supreme Court’s October Term 1998. She then in joined Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin in Washington, D.C., as an associate. She has also served on the Advisory Committee for the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.

The classes she teaches at Notre Dame include constitutional law, federal courts, and civil procedure. Since joining the Notre Dame faculty, she has twice been selected as Distinguished Professor of the Year.

If confirmed, Barrett will fill the seat held by Judge John Tinder, who retired in August 2015.

Barrett’s nomination is garnering support from law professors and former colleagues as well as opposition from the Alliance for Justice, an association of more than 100 organizations from across the country.

In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Notre Dame Law School faculty praised Barrett as a brilliant teacher, generous colleague and possessing the qualities that exemplify exceptional jurists.

“…the characteristic of her work that shines brightest is Amy’s absolute dedication to the rule of law,” the faculty wrote. “She considers it America’s foundational constitutional commitment to resolve legal disputes in a principled and consistent way. She will put that commitment into practice as a judge.”

Also, the law clerks for the Supreme Court of the United States who worked alongside Barrett sent a letter to the Senate Committee. They noted they are Democrats, Republicans and Independents who have diverse viewpoints on an array of topics, including politics and judicial philosophy, but they all support her nomination.

“Based on our observations, we came to respect Professor Barrett’s conscientious work ethic, her respect for the law, and her remarkable legal abilities,” the former clerks wrote. “She conducted herself with professionalism, grace, and integrity. But perhaps as importantly, she treated with courtesy everyone who worked at the Court and she was able to work collaboratively with her colleagues (even those with whom she disagreed) on challenging legal questions.”

However, the Alliance for Justice asserts that Barrett advocates for judges to follow their personal religious beliefs above the law and Constitution. The Alliance for Justice described her as being staunchly opposed to a woman’s right to choose and having created a portfolio of academic work “tailored to dismantle Roe v. Wade.”

Moreover, the Alliance for Justice points out that Barrett is taking the 7th Circuit seat for which Indiana Justice Myra Selby was nominated but never given a hearing. President Barack Obama tapped Selby for the appellate court but the Judiciary Committee never considered her appointment because then senator, now Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats refused to support her nomination.  

According to her questionnaire presented to the Judiciary Committee, Barrett said she was first contacted by Indiana Republican Sen. Todd Young’s staff about the opening on the 7th Circuit on Feb. 20, 2017. She then interviewed with attorneys from the White House and the U.S. Department of Justice. Afterward, she submitted her formal application and interviewed with Young on March 27.

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