U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett expressed concerns Sunday that the public is increasingly seeing the high court as a partisan institution.
"My goal today is to convince you that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks," she told the guests at a private Sunday celebration of the 30th anniversary of the opening of the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, according to The Courier-Journal.
Introduced to the audience by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Barrett, the newest member to the high court since being sworn in last October, spoke at length about her desire for others to see the Supreme Court as nonpartisan.
Barrett said the media's reporting of opinions doesn't capture the deliberative process in reaching those decisions. And she insisted that "judicial philosophies" should not be confused with "political parties."
"Judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties," the justice said, noting that she identifies as an "originalist" and citing fellow Justice Stephen Breyer as an example of the another main school of thought, "pragmatism."
"To say the court's reasoning is flawed is different from saying the court is acting in a partisan manner," said Barrett, whose confirmation to the seat left open by the death of the liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cemented conservative control of the court. "I think we need to evaluate what the court is doing on its own terms."
Barrett, 49, also spoke about her introduction to the court in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it "certainly is a different experience." The court has been hearing arguments by telephone for more than a year, though it recently announced a return to the courtroom in October.
She described the court as a "warm, collegial place." She said that after she was confirmed a colleague brought Halloween candy for her children. As the first mother of school-age children on the nine-member court, she also spoke about balancing her job and family life.
"I have an important job, but I certainly am no more important than anyone else in the grocery store checkout line," Barrett said, describing how her relationship with her children — who are not "particularly impressed" with her high-profile post — helps her stay grounded in her "regular life" where she is busy "running carpools, throwing birthday parties, being ordered around."
When asked what advice she would give to young women who would like to pursue a career in public service, the justice said she would like young women to know it is possible to raise a family and be successful in their chosen career path.
The lecture was held in celebration of the McConnell Center's 30th anniversary. Founded in 1991, the nonpartisan center provides educational and scholarship opportunities to students at the University of Louisville. Three other Supreme Court Justices, most recently Justice Neil Gorsuch, have spoken at the center.
As CBN News reported, the United States Senate voted to confirm Barrett as an associate justice to the Supreme Court last October, a little over a month after Ginsburg's death.
In her opening statement during her confirmation hearings before a Senate panel, the then-judge, a devout Catholic, thanked Americans for supporting her. Barrett went on record, saying she believes in prayer.
"As a final note, Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank the many Americans from all walks of life who have reached out with messages of support over the course of my nomination. I believe in the power of prayer, and it has been uplifting to hear that so many people are praying for me," Barrett said.
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