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4 Things to Know About Amy Coney Barrett

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Judge Amy Coney Barrett,  President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court meets with U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) (not pictured) during a photo-op at the U.S. Capitol on October 1, 2020 in Washington, DC. Barrett is meeting with senators ahead of her confirmation hearing which is scheduled to begin on October 12, less than a month before Election Day. (Photo by Demetrius Freeman - Pool/Getty Images)
By Laura Temme, Esq. on October 02, 2020 10:02 AM

President Trump has officially tapped 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Associate Supreme Court Justice, with only weeks left before the election. If confirmed, the 48-year-old would be the youngest person on the Court - with the potential to shape American jurisprudence for decades.

Here are four important things to know about Judge Barrett:

1. She's Been On the President's Radar for Awhile

It seems Judge Barrett has been on the president's shortlist of potential nominees for some time. When deciding who should replace Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2018, Trump reportedly told advisors, "I'm saving her for Ginsburg."

Within days of Ginsburg's passing, Trump announced that his nominee to replace her would be a woman. And the name that consistently appeared at the top of the list? Amy Coney Barrett. President Trump announced Judge Barrett as his official nominee on September 26, just over one week after Ginsburg's death.

2. Some Are Concerned About Her Religious Affiliations

During Judge Barrett's confirmation hearings for the 7th Circuit, Democratic Senators expressed concern that her staunch faith would impact her decisions on the law. She responded sharply to such questions from Senator Dianne Feinstein, saying, "It's never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge's personal convictions, whether they arise from faith or anywhere else, on the law."

However, in other instances, Judge Barrett has made it clear that her faith does inform her work. In a talk given to graduates of Notre Dame Law School, she described a legal career as "a means to an end...and that end is building the Kingdom of God."

3. She's Flexible on Stare Decisis

Those who want to see Roe v. Wade overturned would likely be happy to see Judge Barrett on the Supreme Court bench. In a 2013 article for the Texas Law Review, she argued that the doctrine of stare decisis is a "soft rule" at the Supreme Court level - concluding that the Court need not always adhere to its own precedent.

She also signed on to a 2006 newspaper ad calling for the end of Roe v. Wade, calling it "an exercise of raw judicial power" and urging the overturning of its "barbaric legacy.

4. She's An Originalist

During her short time on the federal bench, Judge Barrett has been described as a "champion of originalism." This is unsurprising, given her time as a clerk with one of originalism's most forceful modern advocates - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In 2017, she wrote a paper for the Notre Dame Law Review examining the tension between originalism and stare decisis. In it, she examined Justice Scalia's statement that stare decisis was not a part of his originalist philosophy, but rather a "pragmatic exception to it."

Since she's only served three years on the federal bench, there aren't many controversial opinions written by Judge Barrett available to examine for her judicial philosophies. But, as a law professor, she has produced many writings and conducted talks that paint a clearer picture. If confirmed to the Supreme Court, it will be interesting to see if she upholds the legacy of her mentor, Justice Scalia.

Related Resources:

A Look Ahead at the Eight-Member Court's Fall Oral Argument Schedule (FindLaw's Supreme Court)

Biden, Trump Gear Up For Post-Election Legal Scenarios (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)

ABA Says Yet Another Trump Nominee to Federal Bench Is Not Qualified (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)

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