The real Amy Coney Barrett

The left’s trashing of Amy Coney Barrett is already underway. Readers of the Daily Kos were informed:

Barrett is a religious extremist, a member of a small sect that takes the inherent misogyny of traditional Catholicism and adds to it the by doubling down with … more misogyny. She’s a originalist extremist, holding onto a view of Constitutional interpretation so strict, she’s ready to toss out the 14th Amendment.

Bill Maher chimed in with this rant:

But apparently the pick is going to be this omy…a-omy…Amy Comey [sic]. Well, we’ll be saying this name a lot I’m sure because she’s a f***ing nut.

Amy, I’m sorry but, Amy Comey [sic] Barrett — Catholic, really Catholic, I mean really, really Catholic, like speaking in tongues. Like she doesn’t believe in condoms. . . .

Fortunately, a liberal who is actually a legal scholar, and who also knows Amy Barrett, has written a piece that describes the real Judge Barrett, instead of a cardboard cutout version. Noah Feldman is a professor at Harvard Law School and the author of a fine biography of James Madison. He clerked with Barrett on the Supreme Court.

Here is the essence of his assessment of the nominee:

Regardless of what you or I may think of the circumstances of this nomination, Barrett is highly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.

I disagree with much of her judicial philosophy and expect to disagree with many, maybe even most of her future votes and opinions. Yet despite this disagreement, I know her to be a brilliant and conscientious lawyer who will analyze and decide cases in good faith, applying the jurisprudential principles to which she is committed. Those are the basic criteria for being a good justice. Barrett meets and exceeds them.

I got to know Barrett more than 20 years ago when we clerked at the Supreme Court during the 1998-99 term. Of the thirty-some clerks that year, all of whom had graduated at the top of their law school classes and done prestigious appellate clerkships before coming to work at the court, Barrett stood out. Measured subjectively and unscientifically by pure legal acumen, she was one of the two strongest lawyers. The other was Jenny Martinez, now dean of the Stanford Law School.

When assigned to work on an extremely complex, difficult case, especially one involving a hard-to-comprehend statutory scheme, I would first go to Barrett to explain it to me. . . .

Barrett, a textualist who was working for a textualist, Justice Antonin Scalia, had the ability to bring logic and order to disorder and complexity. You can’t be a good textualist without that, since textualism insists that the law can be understood without reference to legislative history or the aims and context of the statute. . . .

To add to her merits, Barrett is a sincere, lovely person. I never heard her utter a word that wasn’t thoughtful and kind — including in the heat of real disagreement about important subjects. She will be an ideal colleague. I don’t really believe in “judicial temperament,” because some of the greatest justices were irascible, difficult and mercurial. But if you do believe in an ideal judicial temperament of calm and decorum, rest assured that Barrett has it. . . .

Barrett is also a profoundly conservative thinker and a deeply committed Catholic. What of it? Constitutional interpretation draws on the full resources of the human mind. These beliefs should not be treated as disqualifying. . . .

We have a Supreme Court nominee who is a brilliant lawyer, a genuine and good person — and someone who holds views about how to interpret the law that I think are wrong and, in certain respects, misguided. I hope the senators at her hearing treat her with respect.

And when she is confirmed, I am going to accept it as the consequence of the constitutional rules we have and the choices we collectively and individually have made. And I’m going to be confident that Barrett is going to be a good justice, maybe even a great one — even if I disagree with her all the way.

(Emphasis added)

So I guess Judge Barrett doesn’t speak in tongues, after all. And I doubt that Feldman would have written this piece if he had any reason to believe she wants to “toss out the Fourteenth Amendment.”

It must have taken a fair amount of courage for a liberal professor like Feldman to write a piece that praises Barrett so effusively. I don’t expect Senate Democrats to take Feldman’s recommendation to heart, nor are they required to.

It would be nice if Senate Democrats at least followed Feldman’s call to “treat [Barrett] with respect” at her hearing. But I don’t expect that, either. I expect the opposite, with Kamala Harris leading the charge.

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