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Vote on Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Date: Oct. 22, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, I spent some one-on-one time yesterday with Amy Coney Barrett. I had the opportunity to be able to ask her questions about agency deference, about religious liberty, and about the responsibility of the three branches of government and the separation of those. We spent time talking about antitrust laws, Tribal laws, and all sorts of things to walk through some things that were not covered in the hearing time.

I walked away even more impressed with her as a leader, her knowledge, her judicial temperament, her sense of responsibility, the awe that she is taking on this responsibility that the Nation would ask her to do.

It stands in stark contrast to some of the conversations I have had with some of my colleagues on the other side and from the hearings over the last week where, most of the time, my colleagues spent their time saying that people should be afraid of this mother of seven, that she is a terrifying individual who will take away your healthcare, who will take away your right to be able to destroy your unborn child if you choose to, that she is racist and that she is anti-woman, which I thought were the ultimate challenges to her as a woman herself, obviously, and when she was challenged over and over again about being a racist and a segregationist. She is the mother of a multiracial family.

It is a bizarre side-by-side to actually meet the actual person and to go through the law versus hearing the descriptions.

Amy Coney Barrett is a native of New Orleans, LA. She is the daughter of a lawyer and a teacher, the oldest of seven children. She has been married to her husband Jesse for 21 years. She herself is the mother of seven children, as I mentioned before--Emma, Vivian, Tess, John Peter, Liam, Juliet, and Benjamin. We got to watch them sitting behind her, quietly watching, proudly, their mom.

She graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame Law School. After graduating from law school, she clerked for DC Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman and for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. She was challenged over and over again, with people saying: You are just like Scalia. She kept responding very calmly to people: ``I have my own mind.'' She practiced both trial and appellate litigation.

Judge Barrett also worked for more than 15 years in academia. She was a distinguished legal scholar at the Notre Dame Law School, the University of Virginia School of Law, and George Washington University Law School. She published articles in the Columbia, Virginia, Texas, and Cornell law reviews. Three graduating classes at Notre Dame Law have selected Judge Barrett as the Distinguished Professor of the Year.

In 2017, she was nominated by President Trump to serve on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and was confirmed by this Senate with a bipartisan vote. Judge Barrett's colleagues at Notre Dame signed a letter supporting her 2017 nomination, calling her ``a model of the fair, impartial and sympathetic judge.'' Since joining the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2017, Judge Barrett has participated in over 600 cases.

The ABA Standing Committee issued Judge Barrett a ``well qualified'' rating based on ``the qualities of integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament.''

When confirmed, Justice Barrett will be the fifth woman to serve on the Supreme Court in its history. She will be the first mother of school-age children to serve on the Court. She will be the only sitting member of the Court to have graduated from a law school other than Harvard or Yale. She will also be the second sitting member of the Court to have been born in the South and only the second member in the Court's history to have been born in Louisiana. She will be the only sitting member of the Court to have served on the Seventh Circuit, which hears cases arising out of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

During the Judiciary Committee hearings, we heard testimony from Laura Wolk, a former student of Judge Barrett's. It was remarkable testimony.

She said, in part:

[S]hould you confirm Amy Barrett, the country will receive something far greater than simply an unparalleled legal mind. The Supreme Court--and therefore all Americans--will gain the service of one of the kindest individuals I have ever known. Her brilliance is matched only by her compassion, and her honesty is beyond reproach.

I do not speak in mere abstractions. Rather, I have experienced these characteristics firsthand, with life- changing results. . . . Judge Barrett described a mentor who gave her a treasured book of literature to commemorate their relationship. Judge Barrett has now passed that torch onto me, giving me a gift of immeasurable value: the ability to pursue an abundant life with the potential to break down barriers so that I can leave this world a better place than I found it.

I could not agree more with her or with her colleagues and peers about her superb qualifications and preparedness to serve in this role. As an originalist and a textualist, her commitment to both the role of the Court and the rule of law are clear. To read her opinions from the perspective of the losing party demonstrates her fairness, her empathy, and her temperament as a judge.

Beyond her resume and accolades, her character, her commitment to faith and family, and her service to her students and the community should not go overlooked. Judge Barrett has my unqualified, full support, and I look forward to voting for her nomination in the next few days.