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Character Matters

By Sen. John Thune

October 23, 2020

Anyone who tuned in for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing saw why she is held in such high regard by her colleagues, students, and peers – and why she will make an extraordinary Supreme Court justice. She’s extremely intelligent and possesses a comprehensive command of the law. She has been described as “a jurist of formidable intellect,” a “brilliant and conscientious lawyer,” and “a staggering academic mind.” Even several Democrats on the Judiciary Committee couldn’t hide the fact that they were impressed with Judge Barrett.

One of the most important qualities I see in Judge Barrett is that she understands the proper role of a judge in our system of government. As Judge Barrett made clear, she understands that the job of a judge is to interpret the law, not make the law. To rule based on the the Constitution, not rewrite the rules of the game. Or as Judge Barrett said to senators at her hearing, “I apply the law, I follow the law, you make the policy.”

Judge Barrett has made it clear that when cases come before her on the Supreme Court, she will consider the facts, the law, and the Constitution – and nothing else. Not her personal beliefs. Not her political opinions. Just the law and the Constitution. That’s the kind of justice all of us – Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative – should want.

I could spend a considerable amount of time highlighting all the extraordinary tributes to Judge Barrett that have poured in since her nomination – from lawyers and scholars of every background and political persuasion. There was one piece of testimony that struck me in particular, though.

The chairman of the American Bar Association’s (ABA’s) Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary testified before the Judiciary Committee during Judge Barrett’s hearing. He said, “Lawyers and judges uniformly praised [Judge Barrett’s] integrity. Most remarkably, in interviews with individuals in the legal profession and community who know Judge Barrett, whether for a few years or decades, not one person uttered a negative word about her character.” In her line of work, character matters. And while I have not always agreed with the ABA’s rankings, they certainly got it right with Judge Barrett when they rated her “well-qualified.” 

Since it’s hard – if not impossible – for my Democrat colleagues to attack Judge Barrett’s qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court, many on the left resorted to attacks, distractions, and distortions. It’s shameful, but the fact that Judge Barrett’s opponents deployed these kinds of tactics is just further evidence that they know how qualified she truly is. In fact, she’s one of the most qualified candidates I’ve ever met, and I’m honored to have supported her throughout this process. She will make a terrific Supreme Court justice, one of which we all can be proud.