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 46–47)
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 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 heading to her alma mater, Notre Dame, in 2002 to teach federal courts, constitutional law and statutory interpretation. 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 continues 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 by 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]

While in law school, Barrett co-authored an article on "whether Catholic judges have the moral obligation to recuse themselves from enforcing the death penalty." During her Senate confirmation hearings, Barrett said she believes that "if there is ever a conflict between a judge's personal conviction and that judge's duty under the rule of law, that it is never, ever permissible for that judge to follow their personal convictions in the decisions of the case rather than what the law requires."[15]

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]

Civil Rights[edit]

EEOC v. AutoZone, 875 F.3d 860 (2017) The court ruled that AutoZone did not violate “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bars employees from segregating or classifying employees based on race, when it used race as a determining factor in assigning employees to different stores – for example, sending African-American employees to stores in heavily African-American neighborhoods.” [6] Barrett was not on the court when this case was heard or when the decision was issued, but did vote against an en banc rehearing.[31]


Orchard Hill Building Co. v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, No. 17-3403 - A property developer challenged the Corps determination that a wetland that was 11 miles away from the nearest navigable river was “waters of the U.S.” Judge Barrett joined the court which found that the Corp had not provided substantial evidence of a significant nexus to navigable‐in‐fact waters and remanded.[32]

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 and clear violation of the plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights to which the defendant is not eligible for qualified immunity.[33]

USA v. David Watson, 17-1651- In an incident involving 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.”[34]

Views on Roe v. Wade[edit]

Barrett is a constitutional scholar with expertise in statutory interpretation.[6] 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".[35][36] 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."[37][38]

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 considered his possible successor,[11][39] though Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the position[40] Barrett is considered to be a possible nominee for future Supreme Court vacancies.[41]

Affiliations and recognition[edit]

At Notre Dame, Barrett three times received the “distinguished professor of the year” award.[42] 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".[43][44]

From 2010-2016, she served by appointment of the Chief Justice on the Advisory Committee for the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.[42]

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.[45] They have seven children: five biological children and two children adopted from Haiti. Her youngest biological child has special needs.[2][46][47]

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.
  2. ^ a b c d "Barrett, Amy Coney | Federal Judicial Center". Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  3. ^ Lloyd, Alice B. (2018-07-06). "Former Law Students Praise Amy Coney Barrett". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2018-07-09. 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 2018-07-09. 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 e "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 9 July 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. (Subscription required (help)).
  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 c "Donnelly one of few Democrats to back potential Supreme Court justice Amy Coney Barrett". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  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". 2017-09-15. Retrieved 2018-07-10.
  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. 2017-10-31. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  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. ^ "EEOC v. AutoZone, Incorporated, No. 15-3201 (7th Cir. 2017)". Justia Law. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  32. ^ "Orchard Hill Building Co. v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, No. 17-3403 (7th Cir. 2018)". Justia Law. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  33. ^ "IMPD detective must stand trial on false affidavit in murder". Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  34. ^ "7th Circuit says vacated Fourth Amendment case was 'close call'". Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  35. ^ "Amy Coney Barrett, possible Supreme Court nominee, has backed 'flexible' approach to court precedent". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  36. ^ "Students, faculty mark 40 years of Roe // News // Notre Dame Magazine // University of Notre Dame". Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  37. ^ "Law professor reflects on landmark case // The Observer". The Observer. 2013-01-21. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  38. ^ Groppe, Maureen (8 July 2018). "What Supreme Court contender Amy Coney Barrett has said about abortion and 9 other issues". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  39. ^ "Indiana's Amy Coney Barrett on list of 25 likely Supreme Court candidates". Indianapolis Star. June 28, 2018. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  40. ^ Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court], New York Times, Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman, July 9, 2018. Retrieved September 25, 2018.
  41. ^ 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.
  42. ^ a b Dame, Marketing Communications: Web | University of Notre. "Amy - Barrett | The Law School | University of Notre Dame". The Law School. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  43. ^ "Supreme Court opening: Indiana's Amy Coney Barrett a favorite of grassroots conservatives". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  44. ^ "Letter to Synod Fathers from Catholic Women". Ethics & Public Policy Center. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  45. ^ "Class Notes: Class of 1996". Notre Dame Magazine. Winter 2012–2013. Archived from the original on March 29, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  46. ^ "Senate Violated A Constitution Ban". Clarion Herald. September 19, 2017. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  47. ^ 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