The Day Judge Amy Coney Barrett fears the public will view the Supreme Court as biased
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP) – Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Sunday raised concerns that the public may increasingly view the court as a partisan institution.
Judges “need to be overwhelming to ensure that personal bias doesn’t creep into their decisions because judges are human,” Barrett said at a presentation at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center.
Presented by Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader who founded the center and played a key role in getting its endorsement in the final days of the Trump administration, Barrett spoke at length of her desire for others to see the Supreme Court as impartial.
Barrett said media coverage of opinions does not capture the deliberative process in decision-making. And she insisted that “philosophies of justice are not the same as political parties.”
“To say that the court’s reasoning is flawed is different from saying that the court is biased,” said Barrett, whose confirmation of the seat released by the death of Liberal Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the court’s conservative scrutiny solidified. “I think we need to evaluate what the court is doing on its own terms.”
Barrett’s comments followed a high profile decision earlier this month in which the court refused to step in to prevent a Texas law banning most abortions, sparking outrage from abortion rights groups and President Joe Biden.
Barrett was interviewed about this decision by students who had asked questions beforehand and also asked about another recent court decision refusing to block a lower court decision instructing the Biden administration to reintroducing a Trump-era program informally known as Remain in Mexico. Barrett said it was “inappropriate” to comment on certain cases.
Several advocates of abortion law demonstrated in front of the Hotel Seelbach, where the private event was taking place.
Barrett, 49, also spoke about her introduction to court amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying it was “certainly a different experience.” The court has been hearing arguments over the phone for more than a year, though it recently announced it would return to the courtroom in October.
Barrett described the dish as a “warm, collegial place”. She said that after her confirmation, a colleague brought Halloween candy for her children. The first mother of school-age children on the nine-person court also spoke about the compatibility of work and family.
“I have an important job, but I’m certainly no more important than anyone at the grocery checkout,” said Barrett, describing her relationship with her children – who are not “particularly impressed” with her high profile position – helps her in theirs Staying grounded in “normal life” by “carpooling, throwing birthday parties, being bossed around.”
When asked what advice she would give to young women pursuing careers in public service, the judiciary said it wants young women to know that it is possible to have a family and thrive.
Barrett was confirmed by the Senate by 52 votes to 48 last year, just over a month after Ginsburg’s death.
Democrats opposed their nomination, arguing that the process was rushed and that the 2020 presidential winner should have been able to choose Ginsburg’s successor. McConnell’s decision to advance Barrett’s nomination contrasted with the position he held in 2016 when he refused to consider President Barack Obama’s decision to fill the seat vacated by Judge Antonin Scalia’s death in February of that year . McConnell blocked hearings for then Judge Merrick Garland, who is now Biden’s Attorney General, saying the election should be left to the electorate in an election year.
The talk was given on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the McConnell Center. Founded in 1991, the non-partisan center provides education and scholarship opportunities for students at the University of Louisville. Three other Supreme Court justices, most recently Judge Neil Gorsuch, spoke at the center.
Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a not-for-profit national utility that places journalists on local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.