We are moving into a troubling political space. It no longer seems to be an asset to hold views tested by the passage of time or the trials of lives measured over generations.
Or, if one does have opinions rooted in philosophy, history, law, or codified convention they may be targeted as being out of tune with the “woke” people of the day. The latter is adept at conjuring up whatever vocabulary to mask the “anything goes” convenient alternative to a “freedom within a structured framework” – the Constitution.
Partisanship inevitably clouds evaluations of competence, ability to contextualize issues or to assess merit for the position. But that should not be the lens though which we evaluate our guardians of the Law.
So it is with judge Amy Coney-Barrett, whose confirmation hearings for her appointment to the Supreme Court in the USA started on Monday. Her testimonials speak to a “brilliant mind” and an exceptional human being. A Professor of Law at the age of 30, now 48 and mother of seven (three adopted - one is Haitian), she is touted as a superlative teacher and a sterling scholar.
For some, she is Super-Judge, painstakingly meticulous, penetrating of the facts and dedicated to clarity of expression. Yet, even in acknowledging that she works diligently, she says “I never let the law define my identity or crowd out the rest of my life.”
She is “well-rounded”. In the most serene of appearances [before the confirmation Committee of Senators], Judge Barrett introduced her children and husband, then said her parents “modeled for me and my six siblings a life of service, principle, faith, and love.”
She has a moral compass – she is Catholic. That is a problem for the “progressives” in the audience world-wide. It is the one religious group still derided in many circles and a target “du jour” always for partisan politicians whose cranial capacity to discuss issues of the day in other than talking point jargon tends toward the lower end of the scale.
California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, a member of the Jewish faith, questioned her ability to separate her religion from the law. Usually, that is code for “not supportive of pro-abortion or LBGQT2 positions. Judge Coney-Barrett emphasized that she believes “in the power of prayer”.
As a Judge, she referenced what she learned and espoused from the guiding philosophy of her mentor, former Chief Justice Antonin Scalia that a judge must apply the Law as written, not as a judge wishes it to be.
“Sometimes that approach meant reaching results that he did not like,” she said, but “that is what it means to say we have a government of laws, not of men.”
Those Laws exist in the context of a Constitutional framework that has withstood the test of time.
It should not matter that Judge Coney-Barret’s only “blemish” is the quality of her nominator.
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