Thank you Chairman Graham and Ranking Member Feinstein. It’s my honor today to join Senator Young and Professor Emerita O’Hara to introduce a fellow Hoosier who makes our state proud.
In 2013, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that “the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America.” Today, it’s still easy to see what he meant.
When confirmed, Amy Coney Barrett would become the only justice of the Supreme Court who spent the majority of her professional life in Middle America – not on the East Coast.
When confirmed, she will be the only sitting Justice who did not receive her law degree from Harvard or Yale, yet her Notre Dame Law credentials are also from a first-rate university.
When confirmed, she will be only the second current justice to join the Court from West of the nation’s capital.
When this vacancy arose, I was the first to voice my support for a nominee from the Midwest, because I believe we need more judges who understand those Middle American values that guide our lives: faith, family, community, and respect for the law.
Amy Coney Barrett is that quintessential Midwesterner: hard-working, generous, humble. She’s a top-flight law scholar who’s just as comfortable at the Saturday morning tailgate as she is in the Ivory Tower. A legal titan who drives a mini-van.
I immediately supported Judge Barrett’s nomination not only because she’s a highly qualified jurist, but because she’s proven both on and off the bench that she has the decency and the fundamental respect for our country and its Constitution to serve honorably.
And now I would like to say a word about faith.
Much will certainly be made in the coming days of Judge Barrett’s Catholic faith and how she practices it. It’s a faith that I and many Americans share.
Our Founders anticipated this question and, as they so often do, got it right: Liberals and conservatives alike are bound by the Constitution’s firm edict that ‘no religious Test should ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States’.
I believe hostility toward Judge Barrett’s religious beliefs today could set a dangerous precedent of hostility toward other religious beliefs tomorrow.
Judge Barrett has been clear in her public life where she falls on the question of faith and the law. As she concluded in a 1998 essay we’re sure to hear cherry-picked for misleading quotes this week, “judges cannot — nor should they try to — align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge.”
Faith is very important to most Americans, and I agree that faith should be a key word in Judge Barrett’s confirmation, but I believe the most important question of faith for a justice is if she will faithfully interpret the Constitution. Judge Barrett’s record shows that she will.
Throughout her nearly one hundred written opinions on the appellate court, Judge Barrett has proven that she is a strong Constitutional originalist who will not cut the American people out of their own government by treating the Supreme Court as a third chamber of Congress.
On the bench, her qualifications are beyond question. Off the bench, she exemplifies the generosity and character Hoosiers are known for, and has lived a life rooted in those heartland values that guide us: faith, family, community, and respect for the law.
Hoosiers should be proud to have Amy Coney Barrett serving and representing our state here today, and I believe she will make all Americans proud as a Justice of the Supreme Court.