An introduction to Justice Barrett

Ella Milakovic, Staff Writer

A mother of seven children becomes the newest Supreme Court Justice of the United States, blazing a trail for working women across the nation. Amy Coney Barrett believes girls can do anything. 

Following in the legendary footsteps of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who passed away on September 18, 2020, Justice Barrett is the first woman with school-age children to serve on the Supreme Court. She was sworn in October 27, 2020. 

From grade school to college, Amy Coney Barrett excelled in all she did with the support of her parents and siblings. 

“My parents modeled for me and my 6 siblings a life of service, principle, faith and love,” she said of her family during the hearings in Washington DC. 

She recalled in her opening statement at the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 12, that while preparing for a grade school spelling bee her father sang “Anything Boys Can Do, Girls Can Do Better” to boost her confidence. 

“As I remember it, I spelled my way to victory,” Barrett told the Senate. 

After an auspicious beginning, she went on to serve in her student government in her all-girls school and learned there her love of words and gained the confidence to lead. 

In college, she studied English Literature before entering law school. 

Barrett says about her decision to pursue the law, “I decided my love for words was better suited to deciphering statutes than novels.”

She is the only sitting Supreme Court Justice who didn’t attend law school at Harvard or Yale.

“I’m confident Notre Dame will hold its own and maybe I can even teach them a thing or two about football,” said Barrett. 

It’s not just football she could teach us a thing or two about. Being a Supreme Court Justice while raising a growing family is not an easy balancing act, but it’s also nothing new for this busy career mom. 

“I worked hard as a lawyer,” said Barrett, “and a professor; I owed that to my clients, my students and myself. But I never let the law define my identity or crowd out the rest of my life.” 

Opening her remarks and description of her career with an in depth and personal account of each of her family members set the stage for her upcoming service on the court and the importance of her children. She praised her daughter Emma, a sophomore in college for pursuing her education. She then mentioned specific attributes of her six other children. Vivian, Tess, JP (John Peter), Liam, Juliet, and finally Benjamin. Benjamin, the youngest son, who has Down Syndrome, is the unanimous family favorite, according to Barrett. 

Like the scales of justice balancing and weighing the law and mercy, Justice Amy Coney Barrett will have to balance her love of the law with her responsibilities and love of her family. 

That balance will be greatly assisted by her judicial philosophy which she adopted from her mentor Justice Scalia, whom she clerked for.

Barrett said, “I have carefully considered the arguments presented by the parties, discussed the issues with my colleagues on the court and done my utmost to reach the result required by the law whatever my own preferences might be.”

Putting the law first is what it means to say we have a government of laws, not of men, as Justice Scalia stated in his opinion on more than one occasion. 

Regardless of how much or how little we as Miners may know about the workings of the Supreme Court, we can all be inspired by a woman who works hard, believes in her family, and knows that women can do anything.