‘Courts were not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life.’

Happy Columbus/Indigenous People’s Day! Here’s my rebranding idea—let me know what you think:

It’s Day 1 of the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings. Today we are hearing opening statements from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Barrett, and Senators Young and Braun from her home state of Indiana.  

Most news channels will be showing the hearings, and you can follow online on C-SPAN and the Senate Judiciary Committee website. After today’s opening statements, Tuesday and Wednesday will be Q&A for Judge Barrett, and additional witnesses will testify on Thursday. After a holdover week, the committee vote is expected around October 22, 2020.

Judge Barrett’s opening statement was posted on Sunday morning and gives a good sense of her judicial philosophy of restraint and balance. From her opening statement

“Courts have a vital responsibility to enforce the rule of law, which is critical to a free society. But courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life. The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the People. The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try.” 

Judge Barrett speaks about the empathy and thoughtfulness that colors the way she writes opinions. Her reasoning is rooted in the Constitution and the law, but her opinions are written with a tone that recognizes that legal cases are fundamentally about people

“When I write an opinion resolving a case, I read every word from the perspective of the losing party. I ask myself how would I view the decision if one of my children was the party I was ruling against: Even though I would not like the result, would I understand that the decision was fairly reasoned and grounded in the law? That is the standard I set for myself in every case, and it is the standard I will follow as long as I am a judge on any court.” 

As a fellow graduate of an “everything school” (Go Gators!), I loved her shoutout to Notre Dame football and recognition that she would be the only sitting Justice who did not graduate from Harvard or Yale.  

So what’s been going on? 

All morning opposition Senators have browbeaten Judge Barrett about the Affordable Care Act (a law she has never ruled on) without recognizing that she has a special needs child and the implications of her life experiences as a woman and mother have had with respect to healthcare.

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