This is worth your time: a thoughtful look at Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court. It was written by O. Carter Snead, a longtime colleague of Barrett’s and a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame. It appeared over the weekend in The Washington Post:
There is no need to fear Barrett’s faith. To the contrary, her commitment to treating others with respect grows directly out of her religious convictions. But Barrett’s love of neighbor goes beyond merely treating others with dignity. In all the time I have known her, I have never once seen Barrett place her needs above those of others.
A few years ago, a blind student matriculated as a first-year law student at Notre Dame. Upon arrival, she encountered delays in getting the technological support she needed to carry out her studies. After only a few days in Barrett’s class, the student asked her for advice. Barrett’s response was “This is no longer your problem. It is my problem.” Barrett followed up with the university administration herself, got the student what she needed, and then mentored her for three years. That student just completed her service as the first blind female Supreme Court clerk in U.S. history.
While Barrett’s faith is the source of her selflessness, it is not a source of authority for her work as a judge. Indeed, during her 2017 confirmation hearings, she stated as much under oath. A progressive former colleague from Barrett’s clerkship days — from Ginsburg’s chambers no less — affirmed that Barrett is “not at all ideological” and believes that she will “try as hard as anyone can to bracket the views she has as she decides cases.”
While Barrett would not draw on any extralegal source of authority — be it religious, moral or political — as a justice, some may still worry about her views on legal precedent. Barrett appears to follow the jurisprudence of her mentor, Justice Antonin Scalia, in looking to the original meaning of the Constitution’s text to evaluate past decisions of the Supreme Court. This approach can stand in tension with the doctrine of stare decisis, which counsels justices to account for pragmatic considerations, such as the disruptive effects of upending precedents Americans have come to rely on, before reversing a prior decision.