September 26, 2020: Announcing His Nominee for the US Supreme Court
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. I stand before you today to fulfill one of my highest and most important duties under the United States Constitution: the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice. This is my third such nomination after Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh. And it is a very proud moment indeed.
Over the past week, our nation has mourned the loss of a true American legend. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a legal giant and a pioneer for women. Her extraordinary life and legacy will inspire Americans for generations to come.
Now we gather in the Rose Garden to continue our never-ending task of ensuring equal justice and preserving the impartial rule of law.
Today, it is my honor to nominate one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds to the Supreme Court. She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials, and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution: Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
We’re also joined by Amy’s husband, Jesse—thank you, Jesse, very much—and their seven beautiful children. Congratulations to you all. A very special day.
With us as well are the First Lady—thank you, First Lady, along with Vice President Mike Pence and his amazing wife, Karen. Thank you very much, Mike.
Judge Barrett is a graduate of Rhodes College and the University of Notre Dame Law School. At Notre Dame, she earned a full academic scholarship, served as the Executive Editor of the Law Review, graduated first in her class, and received the law school’s award for the best record of scholarship and achievement.
Upon graduation, she became a clerk for Judge Laurence Silberman on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Amy then received one of the highest honors a young lawyer could have, serving as a clerk on the Supreme Court for Justice Antonin Scalia. A highly, a very highly respected law professor at Notre Dame wrote to Justice Scalia with a one-sentence recommendation: “Amy Coney is the best student I ever had.” That’s pretty good. Justice Scalia hired her shortly thereafter.
And we are honored to have his wonderful wife, Maureen—where is Maureen? Maureen Scalia—with us today. Thank you. And our great Secretary of Labor, thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Very good genes in that family, I will say. Very good genes.
Before joining the bench, Judge Barrett spent 15 years as a Professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School. She was renowned for her scholarship, celebrated by her colleagues, and beloved by her students. Three times, she was selected at Notre Dame, Distinguished Professor of the Year.
When I nominated Judge Barrett to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2017, every law clerk from her time at the Supreme Court endorsed her and endorsed her nomination, writing, quote, “We are Democrats, Republicans, and independents…yet we write to support the nomination of Professor Barrett to be a Circuit Judge…Professor Barrett is a woman of remarkable intellect and character. She is eminently qualified for the job.”
And I can tell you, I did that too. I looked and I studied, and you are very eminently qualified for this job. You are going to be fantastic. Thank you. Really fantastic.
The entire Notre Dame Law facility and faculty, everybody—everybody at that school also—we got so many letters—also wrote letters of support of Amy’s nomination to the Seventh Circuit. They wrote, in effect: “Despite our differences, we unanimously agree that our constitutional system depends upon an independent judiciary staffed by talented people devoted to the fair and impartial administration of the rule of law. And we unanimously agree that Amy is such a person.”
For the last three years, Judge Barrett has served with immense distinction on the federal bench. Amy is more than a stellar scholar and judge; she is also a profoundly devoted mother. Her family is a core part of who Amy is. She opened her home and her heart, and adopted two beautiful children from Haiti. Her incredible bond with her youngest child, a son with Down Syndrome, is a true inspiration.
If confirmed, Justice Barrett will make history as the first mother of school-aged children ever to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s good.
To her children Emma, Vivian, Tess, John Peter, Liam, Juliet, and Benjamin, thank you for sharing your incredible mom with our country. Thank you very much.
Amy Coney Barrett will decide cases based on the text of the Constitution as written. As Amy has said, “Being a judge takes courage. You are not there to decide cases as you may prefer. You are there to do your duty and to follow the law wherever it may take you.” That is exactly what Judge Barrett will do on the U.S. Supreme Court.
I want to thank the members of the Senate. We have so many of them here today. Thank you very much. I see you in the audience, and you’re so proud. But I want to thank you for your commitment and to providing a fair and timely hearing. I know it will be that.
Judge Barrett was confirmed to the Circuit Court three years ago by a bipartisan vote. Her qualifications are unsurpassed—unsurpassed—and her record is beyond reproach. This should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation. It should be very easy. Good luck. It’s going to be very quick. I’m sure it’ll be extremely non-controversial. We said that the last time, didn’t we? Well, thank you all very much, and thank you for being here. That’s really great. Thank you.
I further urge all members of the other side of the aisle to provide Judge Barrett with the respectful and dignified hearing that she deserves and, frankly, that our country deserves. I urge lawmakers and members of the media to refrain from personal or partisan attacks.
And the stakes for our country are incredibly high. Rulings that the Supreme Court will issue in the coming years will decide the survival of our Second Amendment, our religious liberty, our public safety, and so much more.
To maintain security, liberty, and prosperity, we must preserve our priceless heritage of a nation of laws, and there is no one better to do that than Amy Coney Barrett.
Law and order is the foundation of the American system of justice. No matter the issue, no matter the case before her, I am supremely confident that Judge Barrett will issue rulings based solely upon a fair reading of the law. She will defend the sacred principle of equal justice for citizens of every race, color, religion, and creed.
Congratulations again to Judge Barrett. I know that you will make our country very, very proud.
Please, Amy, say a few words. Thank you very much. Congratulations. Congratulations.
JUDGE BARRETT: Thank you very much, Mr. President. I am deeply honored by the confidence that you have placed in me. And I am so grateful to you and the First Lady, to the Vice President and the Second Lady, and to so many others here for your kindness on this rather overwhelming occasion.
I fully understand that this is a momentous decision for a President. And if the Senate does me the honor of confirming me, I pledge to discharge the responsibilities of this job to the very best of my ability. I love the United States, and I love the United States Constitution. I am truly, I am truly humbled by the prospect of serving on the Supreme Court.
Should I be confirmed, I will be mindful of who came before me. The flag of the United States is still flying at half-staff in memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to mark the end of a great American life. Justice Ginsburg began her career at a time when women were not welcome in the legal profession. But she not only broke glass ceilings, she smashed them. For that, she has won the admiration of women across the country and, indeed, all over the world.
She was a woman of enormous talent and consequence, and her life of public service serves as an example to us all. Particularly poignant to me was her long and deep friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia, my own mentor.
Justices Scalia and Ginsburg disagreed fiercely in print without rancor in person. Their ability to maintain a warm and rich friendship, despite their differences, even inspired an opera. These two great Americans demonstrated that arguments, even about matters of great consequence, need not destroy affection. In both my personal and professional relationships, I strive to meet that standard.
I was lucky enough to clerk for Justice Scalia, and given his incalculable influence on my life, I am very moved to have members of the Scalia family here today, including his dear wife, Maureen.
I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate. His judicial philosophy is mine too: A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold. The President has asked me to become the ninth justice, and as it happens, I’m used to being in a group of nine: my family.
Our family includes me, my husband Jesse, Emma, Vivian, Tess, John Peter, Liam, Juliet, and Benjamin. Vivian and John Peter, as the President said, were born in Haiti and they came to us, five years apart, when they were very young. And the most revealing fact about Benjamin, our youngest, is that his brothers and sisters unreservedly identify him as their favorite sibling.
Our children obviously make our life very full. While I am a judge, I’m better known back home as a room parent, carpool driver, and birthday party planner. When schools went remote last spring, I tried on another hat. Jesse and I became co-principals of the Barrett e-learning academy. And, yes, the list of enrolled students was a very long one.
Our children are my greatest joy, even though they deprive me of any reasonable amount of sleep. I couldn’t manage this very full life without the unwavering support of my husband, Jesse. At the start of our marriage, I imagined that we would run our household as partners. As it has turned out, Jesse does far more than his share of the work. To my chagrin, I learned at dinner recently that my children consider him to be the better cook.
For 21 years, Jesse has asked me, every single morning, what he can do for me that day. And though I almost always say “nothing,” he still finds ways to take things off my plate. And that’s not because he has a lot of free time—he has a busy law practice—it’s because he is a superb and generous husband, and I am very fortunate.
Jesse and I, Jesse and I have a life full of relationships, not only with our children, but with siblings, friends, and fearless babysitters, one of whom is with us today. I am particularly grateful to my parents, Mike and Linda Coney. I spent the bulk of—I have spent the bulk of my adulthood as a Midwesterner, but I grew up in their New Orleans home. And as my brother and sisters can also attest, Mom and Dad’s generosity extends not only to us, but to more people than any of us could count. They are an inspiration.
It is important at a moment like this to acknowledge family and friends. But this evening, I also want to acknowledge you, my fellow Americans. The President has nominated me to serve on the United States Supreme Court, and that institution belongs to all of us.
If confirmed, I would not assume that role for the sake of those in my own circle, and certainly not for my own sake. I would assume this role to serve you. I would discharge the judicial oath, which requires me to administer justice without respect to persons, do equal right to the poor and rich, and faithfully and impartially discharge my duties under the United States Constitution.
I have no illusions that the road ahead of me will be easy, either for the short term or the long haul. I never imagined that I would find myself in this position. But now that I am, I assure you that I will meet the challenge with both humility and courage.
Members of the United States Senate, I look forward to working with you during the confirmation process, and I will do my very best to demonstrate that I am worthy of your support. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Come on up, family. Come on up, family. I want to acknowledge Attorney General Bill Barr. Bill, thank you very much for being here. Chief of Staff—thank you very much, Chief. You’re doing a great job. And all of the senators—please, we really appreciate it. And I know you’re going to have a busy couple of weeks, but I think it’s going to be easier than you might think.
So, thank you very much for being here. Thank you all. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Congratulations, Amy.