The deepest, and perhaps most dangerous, criticisms appear to center around her faith, and what role Catholicism will play as she considers cases that go to the heart of some of the most controversial issues of our time such as abortion and religious freedom.
As she prepares to head into the media maelstrom that will be the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings slated to start Oct. 12, we share and offer these personal reflections and testimonies from UD staff, faculty and alumni on the significance of ACB’s nomination, and her potential impact on the future of our country:
Heather Lachenauer, General Counsel, Notre Dame Law School ’07:
“I was fortunate to be one of Judge Amy Barrett’s students at Notre Dame Law School. Judge Barrett made a lasting impression for two reasons. First, Judge Barrett dedicates herself to her family, her students and her community with sincerity and selflessness. She has developed the intellectual and moral virtues, and uses well the talents God has given her. Second, Judge Barrett teaches with the goal of imparting wisdom while permitting her students to arrive at their own conclusions, to think critically with well-reasoned moral judgment. She does this with motivating creativity and practical knowledge, in an orderly and systematic manner, rendering even the more mundane elements of legal interpretation and procedure interesting. Judge Barrett is a laudable example of the dignity of a woman and continues to be a great inspiration to me.”
Christopher Wolfe, Distinguished Affiliate Professor, Politics Department, and member of the St. Thomas More Society:
"The Dallas chapter of the St. Thomas More Society was honored to be able to present its annual St. Thomas More Award to Professor Amy Coney Barrett in 2018. It was a delight to hear her thoughtful acceptance speech, and to see her receive the award with her customary humility.
“I have a number of friends who teach on the Notre Dame Law School faculty, and they are unanimous in praising her, as a colleague, a teacher, a scholar and a person. In the past few years she has already established a first-rate track record as a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judge. She is an outstanding jurist, and I think Justice Scalia must be very gratified, looking down from heaven, to see his former law clerk carry on his legacy of being a clear, straightforward originalist, as well as a serious and dedicated Catholic.
“The only matter for concern arises from the fact that she will certainly have to go through an absolutely brutal confirmation process, in which her opponents will stop at nothing to defeat her. But I am confident that she will comport herself with the utmost grace through this ordeal, and go on to be a wonderful addition to the Supreme Court."
Raphael Flood, BA ’97, Notre Dame Law School ’07
“As a former student of hers, I remember Judge Barrett as a probing interrogator — you had better be prepared when she called on you in class — and an engaging teacher. After I’d gotten a disappointing grade on the final exam in her class, she met with me in her office over the summer and patiently walked through the exam with me, explaining what I’d missed and giving me suggestions for improving on future exams. While she was already regarded as a rising star professor, she was generous with her time and conscientious about helping all of her students, including those of us who were not headed to prestigious positions after law school. Beyond that, she was then and continues to be an inspiring example of a Catholic lawyer faithfully and joyfully living her vocation as a professional, wife and mother.”
Jason Wu Trujillo, Vice President for University Advancement:
“One of the highlights of my professional career came in early 2019 when I was honored alongside Judge Barrett at a Federalist Society banquet at the University of Virginia School of Law. I was also given the enviable task of greeting Judge Barrett upon her arrival earlier that day. Many distinguished guests treat these sojourns to Charlottesville as an opportunity to relax and get away from their daily life. Judge Barrett arrived early and only asked for a space to call her family and work. I was pleased to provide a space in my offices for her to do just that. It was clear to me that the life of a mother of seven and circuit court judge does not stop!
“In my interactions with Judge Barrett I was struck by her humility. Nearly every time someone mentioned one of her many accomplishments, Judge Barrett deflected that praise with grace. At one point she said, ‘To my kids, I’m just the chauffeur!’
“Judge Barrett’s humility and love for her family was manifest during Saturday's ceremony. She remains a model for me to emulate.”
Susan Hanssen, Associate Professor and Chair, History Department:
“As a person involved in the Right to Life movement since the 1980s, and in Feminists for Life since the ’90s, I can say that we had hoped the Reagan Supreme Court appointees would place the issue of abortion back in the hands of the state legislatures. But in 1992, it became clear in Casey that the Court was intent on legislating the issue from the bench, so the pro-life movement has for decades urged defensive action such as informed consent, parental consent laws and the medical oversight of abortion clinics.
“Now, there is an opportunity, with this series of Trump appointees and Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination, to revitalize the spirit of democracy so abortion laws are a result of people’s voices through the legislative branch. Also, after the Obergefell decision, which created a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in 2015, and the Bostock decision this past summer erasing legal recognition for men and women by employers, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has expressed great concern about religious liberty protections for Catholic schools, universities and hospitals, so it's vitally important that we have a Supreme Court justice who will say what the law is and not what it ought to be. And critically, our country needs a Supreme Court justice who takes religious liberty seriously.”
Anna (Jencopale) Wollscheid, BA ’03, Notre Dame Law School ’06:
“Amy Coney Barrett is a trailblazer in her own way. I do not know any other mothers of seven who are professors of law at prestigious universities and judges. I doubt we will ever see another person like her nominated for the Supreme Court.
“ACB’s integrity and character are second to none. Regardless of her personal opinions on cases/laws, she will hold true to the letter of the law.
“ACB is an amazing person and an inspiration to all women, but especially to those of us in the legal community. As her students, we were in awe of her ability to ‘have it all,’ and nothing has changed. She is an example of what women have worked for and longed for over the past several generations, and she will only open more doors for her daughters and those to follow!”
David Upham, J.D., MA '00 PhD '02, Associate Professor and Chair, Politics Department
“If appointed to the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett will take the same oath she accepted when she became a federal appellate judge: 'to administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich … under the Constitution and laws of the United States.' By that standard, the judge is to be at once impartial to persons and submissive to the people's Constitution.
“I believe that Judge Barrett is blessed with the intellectual and moral virtues, as well as personal experiences, that make her distinctly, if not uniquely, qualified for this dual task of fairness to individuals, and submission to law.
“If confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice, Mrs. Barrett may well prove the finest Supreme Court justice in more than a generation, and perhaps the greatest since Chief Justice Marshall.”