U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed his recent meeting with Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Thune expressed his support for Judge Barrett after a thorough review of her qualifications, experience, and judicial record. With a deference to the law and impartiality, he believes she will successfully serve the American people on the nation’s highest court.
Thune’s remarks (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, on Saturday the president announced his nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by Justice Ginsburg.
“And as the nation mourns the loss of this trailblazing justice, it’s fitting that the president chose an outstanding woman to replace her.
“I had the pleasure of sitting down with Judge Amy Coney Barrett yesterday, and I can say with confidence that she is everything you could want in a Supreme Court justice.
“She is supremely qualified.
“Like Justice Ginsburg, Judge Barrett was first in her class in law school – in this case, Notre Dame.
“She was a clerk for D.C. Circuit Judge Laurence H. Silberman and then for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
“She worked at a prestigious law firm and served as a visiting professor at the George Washington University Law School, before accepting a position at the University of Notre Dame Law School, where she went on to teach for 15 years.
“During her time at Notre Dame, Judge Barrett built a distinguished record.
“She was published repeatedly in prominent law journals, and was chosen by Chief Justice John Roberts to serve on the Advisory Committee for the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.
“She was elected Distinguished Professor of the Year by the law school’s graduating class three times.
“She also served as a visiting associate professor at another prominent law school – the University of Virginia’s School of Law.
“In 2017, she moved to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, winning Senate confirmation in a bipartisan vote.
“Mr. President, during her confirmation to the Seventh Circuit, support for Judge Barrett poured forth from her students, colleagues, and peers – from both sides of the aisle.
“Every one of the Supreme Court clerks who had served with Judge Barrett during her clerkship with Justice Scalia wrote a letter to the then-chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing their support for her confirmation.
“This included Justice Ginsburg’s clerks and other clerks from the liberal wing of the court.
“Here’s what they had to say:
“‘We are Democrats, Republicans, and independents, and we have diverse points of view on politics, judicial philosophy, and much else. Yet we all write to support the nomination of Professor Barrett to be a Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Professor Barrett is a woman of remarkable intellect and character. She is eminently qualified for the job.’
“Judge Barrett’s colleagues from Notre Dame sent a similar letter.
“They said, and I quote:
“‘Amy Coney Barrett will be an exceptional federal judge… As a scholarly community, we have a wide range of political views, as well as commitments to different approaches to judicial methodology and judicial craft. We are united, however, in our judgment about Amy. She is a brilliant teacher and scholar, and a warm and generous colleague. She possesses in abundance all of the other qualities that shape extraordinary jurists: discipline, intellect, wisdom, impeccable temperament, and above all, fundamental decency and humanity.’
“That letter, Mr. President, was signed by every full-time member of the Notre Dame Law School faculty.
“Every full-time member.
“Four hundred and seventy Notre Dame Law graduates, former students of Judge Barrett, sent a letter as well.
“Here’s what they said:
“‘Our backgrounds and life experiences are varied and diverse. Our legal practices are as varied as the profession itself… Our religious, cultural, and political views span a wide spectrum. Despite the many and genuine differences among us, we are united in our conviction that Professor Barrett would make an exceptional federal judge.’
“They went on:
“‘We are convinced that Professor Barrett will bring to the federal bench the same intelligence, fairness, decency, generosity, and hard work she has demonstrated at Notre Dame Law School. She will treat each litigant with respect and care, conscious of the reality that judicial decisions greatly affect the lives of those before the court. And she will apply the law faithfully and impartially.’
“Mr. President, I could go on for a while here.
“There are a lot of tributes to Amy Coney Barrett out there – like the one in support of her circuit court nomination that was joined by former Obama solicitor general Neal Katyal, which praised her, quote, ‘first-rate’ qualifications and stated that she was ‘exceptionally well qualified.’
“Or the recent tribute from Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman – one of House Democrats’ star impeachment witnesses – who stated, and I quote: ‘Barrett is highly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.’
“But I’ll stop here.
“Because I think it’s abundantly obvious to everyone – my colleagues across the aisle included – that Judge Barrett is supremely qualified to be a Supreme Court justice.
“Which is why Democrats have resorted to scare tactics to try to sink her nomination.
“Democrats realize that it’s pretty hard to oppose Judge Barrett on the merits.
“And they seem at least somewhat wary of attacking her religion, as they did during her confirmation hearing to the Seventh Circuit, when multiple Democrats suggested that Judge Barrett was unqualified because she happened to be a practicing Catholic.
“I think Democrats may be realizing that their bias against religious people doesn’t play well with the millions of Americans who take their faith seriously.
“They also may be remembering that the Constitution explicitly forbids religious tests for public office.
“Although I will note that that didn’t stop one of the Democrat presidential candidate’s advisers from saying just this week that she didn’t think orthodox Catholics, Muslims, or Jews should sit on the Supreme Court.
“In this Biden adviser’s world, taking your religious faith seriously should disqualify you from sitting on the Supreme Court.
“Apparently Democrats still don’t think that people of faith are capable of upholding the Constitution or discharging the duties of their office.
“But again, Mr. President, it seems that Democrats realize that offending millions of religious Americans may not be their best strategy.
“So they’ve turned to health care scare tactics.
“Judge Barrett, Democrats say, will take away Americans’ health care if she is confirmed to the Supreme Court.
“It’s actually an old Democrat line.
“It was deployed against Justice Kennedy when he was a Supreme Court nominee.
“It was deployed against Justice Souter – a Republican nominee who became known for siding with the liberal wing of the court.
“It was deployed against Justice John Roberts – the very same man who cast the deciding vote upholding the Affordable Care Act as chief justice on the Supreme Court.
“And now it’s being deployed against Judge Barrett in an attempt to derail her nomination while promulgating one of liberals’ favorite myths – that Republicans are eagerly waiting to rip away Americans’ health care.
“Democrats are particularly focused on suggesting that Republicans would like to take away protections for preexisting conditions – despite the fact that every single Senate Republican supports protecting people with preexisting conditions.
“Every single Senate Republican.
“In fact, just a few weeks ago, Republicans inserted language affirming protections for those with preexisting conditions in our COVID relief bill – a bill that Democrats filibustered.
“It is both ridiculous and offensive to suggest that Judge Barrett – the mom of seven children, more than one of whom has faced medical challenges – is out to eliminate Americans’ health care.
“Mr. President, the truth is, we have no idea how Judge Barrett would vote on any particular health care case – just as we have no idea how any Supreme Court justice will vote on any particular health care case.
“How could we?
“Each case is unique, with unique legal and constitutional issues.
“What we can say with certainty about Judge Barrett is that she will carefully consider each case.
“She will consider the facts of the case, the law, and the Constitution.
“And she will rule based on those things – regardless of her personal feelings or beliefs.
“As Judge Barrett noted in her speech accepting the president’s nomination, ‘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.’
“That’s the kind of justice Judge Barrett would be.
“And that’s the kind of justice all of us – Democrat or Republican – should want.
“Someone who will protect the principles of justice and equality under the law by judging according to the law and the Constitution – and nothing else.
“Someone who will leave her personal beliefs at the courtroom door.
“Someone who will, as Judge Barrett said last week, quoting the judicial oath, ‘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.’
“Mr. President, one of the reasons I ran for the Senate was to help put judges like Amy Coney Barrett on the bench.
“I commend the president for his outstanding choice.
“And I look forward to supporting her nomination as the Senate moves forward.”