Amy Coney Barrett

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Amy Coney Barrett
Amy Coney Barrett.png
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Assumed office
November 2, 2017
Appointed byDonald Trump
Preceded byJohn Daniel Tinder
Personal details
Amy Vivian Coney

1972 (age 47–48)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
EducationRhodes College (BA)
Notre Dame Law School (JD)
Spouse(s)Jesse M. Barrett
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of Notre Dame
WebsiteNotre Dame Law Biography

Amy Coney Barrett (born 1972)[1][2] is a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She is also a professor of law at Notre Dame Law School and was a John M. Olin Fellow in Law at George Washington University Law School.[2][3][4]


Barrett graduated from St. Mary's Dominican High School in New Orleans in 1990.[5] In 1994, Barrett graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Rhodes College, where she was a Phi Beta Kappa member.[6] In 1997, she graduated summa cum laude from the Notre Dame Law School with a Juris Doctor, where she was executive editor of the Notre Dame Law Review, a Kiley Fellow, and earned the Hoynes Prize, the Law School’s highest honor.[7]  

Early legal career[edit]

After graduating law school, Barrett served as a law clerk to Judge Laurence Silberman of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.[8] She then spent a year as a clerk to Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1998–99.[8] From 1999 to 2002, she practiced law at Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin in Washington, D.C..[9][10]

Barrett spent a year as a law and economics fellow at George Washington University before returning to her alma mater, Notre Dame, in 2002 to teach federal courts, constitutional law, and statutory interpretation. While at Notre Dame, she was named a Professor of Law in 2010, and, from 2014–17, held the Diane and M.O. Miller Research Chair of Law.[11] Barrett has continued to teach as a sitting judge.[12]

Barrett has published many law review articles and essays with a focus on constitutional law, originalism, and stare decisis. Her more recent articles have been published in the University of Chicago Law Review, the Notre Dame Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, and Constitutional Commentary.[7]  

Federal judicial service[edit]

Nomination and confirmation[edit]

President Donald Trump nominated Barrett on May 8, 2017, to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, to the seat vacated by Judge John Daniel Tinder, who took senior status on February 18, 2015.[13][14] President Barack Obama's January 2016 nominee for the vacancy, Myra C. Selby, was blocked in the U.S. Senate due to the blue slip opposition of Senator Dan Coats (R-IN).[15] Selby's nomination was denied a United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing and expired a year later.[16]

A hearing on Barrett's nomination before the Senate Judiciary Committee was held on September 6, 2017.[17] During Barrett's hearing, Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein questioned Barrett about whether her Catholic faith would influence her decision-making on the court. Feinstein, concerned about whether Barrett would uphold Roe v. Wade given her Catholic beliefs, followed Barrett's response by stating "the dogma lives loudly within you, and that is a concern".[18][19][20][21] In response to Feinstein's question, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network began to sell mugs with Barrett's photo on them and displaying the Feinstein "dogma" quote.[15] Feinstein's line of questioning was criticized by some observers and legal experts[22][23] while defended by others.[24] The issue prompted questions regarding the application of Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution which mandates: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”[25][26][22][23][24] During her hearing, Barrett said: "It is never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge's personal convictions, whether they arise from faith or anywhere else, on the law."[22]

Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durbin asked Barrett whether she was an "orthodox Catholic" and criticized her prior use of the term, "saying it unfairly maligns Catholics who do not hold certain positions about abortion or the death penalty."[26] Republican Senator Chuck Grassley stated “Professor Barrett is a brilliant legal scholar who has earned the respect of colleagues and students from across the political spectrum. She's also a committed Roman Catholic and has spoken passionately about the role that her faith plays in her life. This isn't inconsistent with being a federal judge."[27]

On October 5, 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on a party-line basis of 11–9 to recommend Barrett and report her nomination to the full Senate.[28][29] On October 30, 2017, the Senate invoked cloture by a vote of 54–42.[30] The Senate confirmed her with a vote of 55–43 on October 31, 2017, with three Democrats – Joe Donnelly, Tim Kaine, and Joe Manchin – voting for her.[6] She received her commission on November 2, 2017.[2]

Notable cases[edit]

Second Amendment[edit]

Kanter v. Barr:[31] Barrett wrote a lengthy dissent in favor of gun-ownership rights. The plaintiff was convicted of mail fraud for submitting bills to Medicare for reimbursement for non-compliant therapeutic shoe inserts. Due to his felony conviction, he was not allowed to legally possess a firearm. He challenged this denial and the majority upheld the felony dispossession statutes as "substantially related to an important government interest in preventing gun violence."[31] Barrett dissented, stating that while the government has a legitimate interest in denying gun possession to felons convicted of violent crimes, there is no evidence that denying guns to non-violent felons promotes this interest, and that denying such rights is a violation of the second amendment.[32][33]

Fourth Amendment[edit]

William Rainsberger v. Charles Benner, 17-2521: Barrett wrote the opinion in a case denying summary judgment and qualified immunity to a police detective who knowingly provided false and misleading information in an affidavit. The plaintiff, Rainsberger, was arrested for his own mother's murder based upon the defendant's falsified records used to secure a warrant for the plaintiff's arrest. The court found the defendant's lies and omissions were material to probably cause a clear violation of the plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights to which the defendant is not eligible for qualified immunity.[34]

USA v. David Watson, 17-1651: Involved police responding to an anonymous tip that people were "playing with guns" in a parking lot. The police arrived and searched the defendant's vehicle, taking possession of two firearms. In a motion to suppress the firearms from the vehicle search, the court found that the police lacked probable cause to search the vehicle based solely upon the tip, where no crime was actually alleged. Writing for the majority, Barrett opined "the police were right to respond to the anonymous call by coming to the parking lot to determine what was happening. But determining what was happening and immediately seizing people upon arrival are two different things, and the latter was premature…Watson's case presents a close call. But this one falls on the wrong side of the Fourth Amendment."[35]

Title IX[edit]

Doe v. Purdue University, No. 17-3565:[36] In a Barrett-authored opinion, the court found in favor of a male student found guilty of sexual assault by Purdue University, which resulted in a one-year suspension, loss of his Navy ROTC scholarship, and expulsion from the ROTC affecting his ability to pursue his chosen career in the Navy. Doe alleged the school's Advisory Committee on Equity discriminated against him on the basis of his sex and violated his rights to due process by not interviewing the alleged victim, not allowing him to present evidence in his defense, including an erroneous statement that he confessed to some of the alleged assault, and appearing to believe the victim instead of the accused without hearing from either party or having even read the investigation report.[37] The court found that Doe had adequately alleged that he was deprived of his occupational liberty without due process and that he had possibly been discriminated against on the basis of sex. The case was remanded to the District Court for further proceedings.[38]

Judicial philosophy[edit]

Barrett considers herself an originalist. She is a constitutional scholar with expertise in statutory interpretation.[6] She has stated that faith and politics should be separated from the law and that "justice should not turn on what judge you get....If we reduce the courts to mere politics, then why do we need them? We already have politicians.”[39]

At an event in 2013 that reflected on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, she described the decision—in the paraphrase by Notre Dame Magazine—as "creating through judicial fiat a framework of abortion on demand".[40][41] She also remarked that it was "very unlikely" the court will overturn the core aspect of Roe v. Wade: "The fundamental element, that the woman has a right to choose abortion, will probably stand. The controversy right now is about funding. It's a question of whether abortions will be publicly or privately funded."[42][43]

Potential Supreme Court nomination[edit]

Barrett had been included on President Donald Trump's list of potential Supreme Court nominees since 2017. In July 2018, following the retirement announcement of Anthony Kennedy, she was reportedly one of three finalists considered by Trump as a possible successor to Kennedy.[11][44] Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the position.[45] Barrett is considered to be a possible nominee for future Supreme Court vacancies.[46] Trump is reportedly "saving" Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat for Amy Coney Barrett if Ginsburg leaves during Trump's presidency.[47]

Affiliations and recognition[edit]

At Notre Dame, Barrett three times received the “distinguished professor of the year” award.[48] Barrett is affiliated with Faculty for Life, a pro-life group at the University of Notre Dame. In 2015, Barrett signed a joint letter to Catholic bishops which affirmed the Church's teachings including "the value of human life from conception to natural death," and that family and marriage are "founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman".[49][50]

From 2010 to 2016, she served by appointment of the Chief Justice on the Advisory Committee for the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.[48]

Barrett was a member of the Federalist Society from 2005 to 2006 and 2014 to 2017.[20][6]

Personal life[edit]

Amy Vivian Coney is married to Jesse M. Barrett, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana.[51] They have seven children: five biological children and two children adopted from Haiti. Her youngest biological child has special needs.[2][52][53]

Barrett is a practicing Roman Catholic.[20] The New York Times reported that Barrett was a member of a small, tightly knit Charismatic Christian group called People of Praise.[20]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Barrett, Amy Coney (2017). "Originalism and Stare Decisis" (PDF). Notre Dame Law Review. 92 (5): 1921–44. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 15, 2017.
  • Garvey, John H.; Coney, Amy V. (1998). "Catholic Judges in Capital Cases" (PDF). Marquette Law Review. 81: 303–50. Archived from the original on September 21, 2017.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Editors (September 22, 2017). "JFK, Amy Coney Barrett and Anti-Catholicism". National Catholic Register. Archived from the original on October 7, 2017. Retrieved October 7, 2017.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b c d "Barrett, Amy Coney | Federal Judicial Center". Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  3. ^ Lloyd, Alice B. (July 6, 2018). "Former Law Students Praise Amy Coney Barrett". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved July 9, 2018. Students, being familiar with her scholarship and lectures, knew her to be a consistent textualist and originalist.
  4. ^ "These Are Trump's Candidates for the Supreme Court". Time. Retrieved July 9, 2018. Coney Barrett has written extensively about Constitutional originalism, a legal tradition that advocates for an interpretation of the Constitution based on the meaning it would have had at the time it was written.
  5. ^ Aymond, Gregory M (September 19, 2017). Senate Violated A Constitution Ban, Clarion Herald
  6. ^ a b c d "Potential nominee profile: Amy Coney Barrett – SCOTUSblog". SCOTUSblog. July 4, 2018. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Amy Coney Barrett bio". University of Notre Dame School of Law. Archived from the original on September 2, 2012. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Nominee Report" (PDF). Alliance for Justice. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  9. ^ Lat, David (May 1, 2017). "Circuit Court Nominees in the Trump Administration: A Nationwide Round-Up". Above the Law. Archived from the original on May 6, 2017. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  10. ^ Carr, Thomas B. (July 26, 2004). "Letters to the Editor: 'Now-Defunct' Miller, Cassidy". National Law Journal. Archived from the original on September 30, 2017. Retrieved September 29, 2017.(subscription required)
  11. ^ a b Nicholas, Peter; Radnofsky, Louise (July 5, 2018). "Trump Winnows Down Supreme Court Picks, Focusing on Three". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  12. ^ Severino, Carrie (May 7, 2017). "Bench Memos: Who Is Amy Coney Barrett?". National Review. Archived from the original on October 7, 2017. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  13. ^ "Presidential Nomination 369, 115th United States Congress". United States Congress. May 8, 2017. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  14. ^ Staff (May 8, 2017). "Trump Names 10 Conservatives It Plans to Nominate to Federal Courts". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  15. ^ a b "Donnelly one of few Democrats to back potential Supreme Court justice Amy Coney Barrett". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  16. ^ Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate, White House, January 12, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  17. ^ "Rescheduled Notice of Committee Hearing". Senate Judiciary Committee. August 4, 2017. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  18. ^ Dianne Feinstein Attacks Judicial Nominee’s Catholic Faith, National Review, Alexandra DeSanctis, September 6, 2017. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  19. ^ Green, Emma (September 8, 2017). "Should a Judge's Nomination Be Derailed by Her Faith?". The Atlantic. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  20. ^ a b c d Goodstein, Laurie (September 28, 2017). "Some Worry About Judicial Nominee's Ties to a Religious Group". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 28, 2017. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  21. ^ "Feinstein: 'The dogma lives loudly within you, and that is a concern'". The Washington Post. September 7, 2017. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  22. ^ a b c Gerstein, Josh (September 11, 2017). "Senators take fire over questions for Catholic judicial nominee". Politico. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  23. ^ a b Eisgruber, Christopher L. (September 8, 2017). "Letter from President Eisgruber to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Regarding the Use of Religious Tests". Princeton University: Office of the President. Archived from the original on October 7, 2017. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  24. ^ a b Aron, Nan. "Forget the critics, Feinstein did the right thing by questioning a judicial nominee on her faith and the law". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  25. ^ "EDITORIAL: Religious Tests Unfit for Court". September 15, 2017. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  26. ^ a b "Did Durbin and Feinstein Impose a Religious Test for Office?". National Review. September 8, 2017. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  27. ^ "Senate votes to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to 7th Circuit Court of Appeals". Washington Examiner. October 31, 2017. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  28. ^ Freking, Kevin (October 6, 2017). "Committee Recommends Notre Dame Professor Amy Coney Barrett for U.S. Judicial Bench". South Bend Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  29. ^ "Daily Digest/Senate Committee Meetings, Committee on the Judiciary". Congressional Record, 115th Congress, 1st Session. 163 (160): D1059–D1060. October 5, 2017. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  30. ^ "U.S. Senate: U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 115th Congress – 1st Session". Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  31. ^ a b "Kanter v. Barr, No. 18-1478 (7th Cir. 2019)". Justia Law. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  32. ^ "If Donald Trump gets another Supreme Court pick..." The Economist. May 16, 2019. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  33. ^ "Judge Barrett's Dissent in Second Amendment Case". National Review. March 18, 2019. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  34. ^ "IMPD detective must stand trial on false affidavit in murder". Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  35. ^ "7th Circuit says vacated Fourth Amendment case was 'close call'". Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  36. ^ "Doe v. Purdue University, No. 17-3565 (7th Cir. 2019)". Justia Law. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  37. ^ Reporters, ALEXANDRA WELIEVER AND JACKIE LE Staff. "Appeals court reverses dismissal of sex-assault lawsuit". Purdue Exponent. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  38. ^ "7th Circuit reinstates student case against Purdue in sexual assault case". Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  39. ^, The Washington Times. "Amy Coney Barrett, potential Supreme Court nominee: 'Justice should not turn on what judge you get'". The Washington Times. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  40. ^ "Amy Coney Barrett, possible Supreme Court nominee, has backed 'flexible' approach to court precedent". Washington Post. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  41. ^ "Students, faculty mark 40 years of Roe // News // Notre Dame Magazine // University of Notre Dame". Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  42. ^ "Law professor reflects on landmark case // The Observer". The Observer. January 21, 2013. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  43. ^ Groppe, Maureen (July 8, 2018). "What Supreme Court contender Amy Coney Barrett has said about abortion and 9 other issues". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  44. ^ "Indiana's Amy Coney Barrett on list of 25 likely Supreme Court candidates". Indianapolis Star. June 28, 2018. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  45. ^ Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court], New York Times, Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman, July 9, 2018. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  46. ^ Judge Amy Coney Barrett passed over for Supreme Court will stay in spotlight, Sun Times, Jon Seidel and Lynn Sweet, July 18, 2018. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  47. ^ Perper, Rosie. "Trump is reportedly 'saving' a seat on the Supreme Court for conservative Amy Barrett in place of Ruth Bader Ginsburg". Business Insider. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  48. ^ a b Dame, Marketing Communications: Web | University of Notre. "Amy - Barrett | The Law School | University of Notre Dame". The Law School. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  49. ^ "Supreme Court opening: Indiana's Amy Coney Barrett a favorite of grassroots conservatives". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  50. ^ "Letter to Synod Fathers from Catholic Women". Ethics & Public Policy Center. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  51. ^ "Class Notes: Class of 1996". Notre Dame Magazine. Winter 2012–2013. Archived from the original on March 29, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  52. ^ "Senate Violated A Constitution Ban". Clarion Herald. September 19, 2017. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  53. ^ Desmond, Joan (July 2, 2018). "Will This Catholic Jurist Be the Newest Supreme Court Justice?". National Catholic Register. Retrieved July 3, 2018.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
John Daniel Tinder
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit