It’s not every day that one gets to have dinner with the likely next Supreme Court Justice of the United States. I was that lucky this past week.
When mentioning the Supreme Court, the first thing that comes to mind is the brouhaha surrounding the Supreme Court nomination, the subsequent testimony and final confirmation of the now Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Justice Kavanaugh ultimately prevailed as everyone knows. But not without a freewheeling donnybrook of huge political proportions. It was shameful to watch.
So who will be next? Of course, I am confidently predicting that President Trump’s tenure will last another six more years. I wouldn’t bet against him. The President has already positioned two Supreme Court Justices in just two years and could have as many as two or three additional opportunities before he retires to the fairways of Mar-a-Lago.
This last go around, President Trump narrowed it down to three qualified individuals, one being a woman. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Judge Raymond Kethledge, and Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
The mantra for the next 10 days, prior to midterm elections, will be how the Republicans feel that the Democrats on the judiciary committee mistreated and falsely accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct 46 years ago in “high school.” Of course, they had no proof whatsoever of these allegations and were thwarted in their attempt to subvert Justice Kavanaugh. Thankfully, the media circus all came to a merciful end when Senator Diane Feinstein (D) failed in her last minute, last ditch, shenanigans to conjure something (and someone) up.
So who would want to ever go through that judicial nomination process again? I was lucky enough to find out last week when I had dinner in Savannah with a couple of friends and the Honorable Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
I think Judge Amy Barrett was Donald Trump’s first choice over Justice Kavanaugh but he felt that Judge Barrett was a bit too controversial being a Catholic woman, a law professor, a mother of seven, a proponent of the Right to Life and that she had only recently been seated on the 7th Appellate Court. The President was advised that Judge Kavanaugh’s reputation was unassailable and that he would glide through the nomination process in “a breeze.” Kavanaugh also had written over 300 scholarly legal opinions and had a famed “clean as a whistle” reputation. Enter the Democrats.
I believe Donald Trump will nominate Judge Amy for the next Supreme Court justice - if she will accept, knowing what we all know now about the process and how the President himself warned, “We may never get any qualified people to accept a nomination ever again after what we’ve just seen happen to an honorable man.”
Would Judge Barrett accept the President’s nomination?
I believe she would, yes. At dinner, Judge Barrett, and those of us at the table, talked about many things, including family, intellectual property, and something she and I both share with pride - teaching and lecturing on the graduate level. Judge Barrett has been a law professor at the University of Notre Dame for the last 20 years in addition to her career as judge, wife and mother. Like Justice Kavanaugh, she does not back down from a fight nor would she ever be a victim of injustice.
Judge Barrett and her husband have five children together and have also adopted two children from Haiti to form quite an amazing family group. No cable TV in their house - nope - just NETFLIX and computer streaming.
During dessert, Judge Barrett also brought to light her deep historical knowledge and the many nuances of the structure of the Supreme Court, it’s power struggles of identity since inception, it’s evolution, and it’s position of power regarding impeachment of members of any other branch of government.
There is no doubt in my mind that Judge Barrett is an avid Constitutionalist and believes that being a feminist does not conflict with her belief in the Right to Life and that politics has no place in the Supreme Court. This she was adamant about. Judge Barrett believes in the literal translation of the Constitution and that the Supreme Court is charged to “interpret” the law not to “prescribe” it. History supports her on this premise. During the conversation, I brought up the point that the Founding Fathers, even with all their many differences, each and every one of them was a “Constitutionalists.”
The inevitable conversation turned to Judge Kavanaugh’s treatment during the nomination process. Someone asked if Senator Feinstein’s antics worried her if she herself were to be nominated to the Supreme Court. “Do you have any comment on that?” Someone asked. Judge Barrett neatly passed that question along with a wonderful smile, “No,” she said. “No comment.” It was a very confident smile, nonetheless.
We left the restaurant to listen to Judge Amy Barrett’s speech in front of the Notre Dame quest lecture group in another part of town. It all was wonderfully informative - but dinner with the Judge was even better. Finally, at the end of the informative talk, one guest in the audience jokingly asked Judge Barrett if she liked beer? Those in attendance chuckled. Another broad smile broke out across the judge’s face and she simply said, “No. I don’t drink beer.”
Good luck to you and your family then, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Good luck in “deed.”