Barrett: If I’m Confirmed, You Would Not Be Getting Justice Scalia’

By Melanie Arter | October 13, 2020 | 10:36am EDT
Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks during the second day of her Senate Judiciary committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on October 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. - President Donald Trump's US Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett faces a sharply divided Senate October 13, 2020 for her first question-and-answer session, with Republicans praising her faith and qualifications and Democrats set to bombard her over healthcare. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOW
Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOW

(CNSNews.com) – Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that if she is confirmed, the high court would not be getting the late Justice Antonin Scalia, it would be getting Justice Barrett.

Barrett admitted that she, like Scalia, is an originalist.

 

 


Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked her what she would say when people say she’s “a female Scalia.”

“I would say that Justice Scalia was obviously a mentor. As I said when I accepted the president's nomination that his philosophy is mine, too,” Barrett said. 

“He was a very eloquent defender of originalism, and that was also true of textualism, which is the way that I approach statutes and their interpretation, and similarly to what I just said about originalism for textualism, the judge approaches the text as it was written with the meaning it had at the time and doesn't infuse their own meaning into it,” she said. 

“But I want to be careful to say that if I'm confirmed, you would not be getting Justice Scalia, you would be getting Justice Barrett, and that's so, because originalists don't always agree and neither do textualists. Justices Scalia and Thomas disagreed often enough that my friend Judge Ann Mellissa Parr teaches a class called Scalia versus Thomas. You know, it’s not a mechanical exercise,” Barrett added.

Here is a transcript of their exchange:

 

GRAHAM: Now, the bottom line here, judge, you said yesterday something that struck me, and I want the American people to understand what you meant. You said you are an originalist, is that true? What does that mean in English? It means that -- press the button. We all love Senator Lee but -- in English. 

BARRETT:  In English. Okay, so in English that means that I interpret the constitution as a law, that I interpret its text as text, and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. That meaning doesn't change over time, and it’s not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it. 

GRAHAM: So in other words, you’re bound by the people who wrote it at the time they wrote it. That keeps you from substituting your judgment for theirs. Is that correct? 

BARRETT:  Yes. 

GRAHAM: Justice Scalia, he was an originalist, is that correct?

BARRETT: Yes, he was.

GRAHAM: People say you are a female Scalia, what would you say? 

BARRETT: I would say that Justice Scalia was obviously a mentor. As I said when I accepted the president's nomination that his philosophy is mine, too. He was a very eloquent defender of originalism, and that was also true of textualism, which is the way that I approach statutes and their interpretation and similarly to what I just said about originalism for textualism, the judge approaches the text as it was written with the meaning it had at the time and doesn't infuse their own meaning into it.

But I want to be careful to say that if I'm confirmed, you would not be getting Justice Scalia, you would be getting Justice Barrett. And that's so because originalists don't always agree and neither do textualist. Justices Scalia and Thomas disagreed often enough that my friend Judge Ann Mellissa Parr teaches a class called Scalia versus Thomas. You know, it’s not a mechanical exercise. 

GRAHAM:  I'll wait until the movie comes out. So the bottom line there is a narrative building this in country, and again, you can stand down. This is just me speaking for me. Justice Ginsburg was an iconic figure in American history, just not the law. She was a trailblazer. She fought for better conditions for women throughout society. She was unashamedly progressive in personal thought. She was devout to her faith. She worked for the ACLU. She was proudly pro-choice personally, but all of us on this side apparently when they voted accepted that she was highly qualified. What I want the American people to know I think it's okay to be religiously conservative. 

I think it's okay to be personally pro-choice. I think it's okay to live your life in a traditional Catholic fashion and you still be qualified for the Supreme Court. So all the young conservative women out there, this hearing to me is about a place for you. I hope when this is all over that you -- there will be a place for you at the table. There will be a spot for you at the Supreme Court like there was for Judge Ginsburg, and to President Trump, I don't know if you're listening or not, but picking Judge Barrett you have publicly said you find value in all of these characteristics but beyond anything else, you find Judge Barrett to be highly qualified. I would say you are one of the greatest picks President Trump could have made and from the conservative side of the aisle you are one of the most qualified people of your generation. 

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