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Judicial nomination of Notre Dame law professor

| Thursday, September 28, 2017

Where to begin with Mr. Caruso’s attack (“Preventing Catholic Jihadist Judges,” Observer Sept. 22) on the judicial nomination of Notre Dame Law School professor Amy Coney Barrett? Let’s start with the truly offensive headline invoking the term “jihadist” to suggest the kind of judge professor Barrett will be. Really, just reprinting the word and noting the implication is enough.

In attacking professor Barrett’s nomination, Mr. Caruso doesn’t begin to engage the substance of professor Barrett’s work or career. (Incidentally, in her long and productive scholarly career, professor Barrett has written exactly one article even touching on religion, and that was over 20 years ago as a student co-author with a distinguished NDLS faculty member). One wonders whether Mr. Caruso has the slightest familiarity with Professor Barrett’s remarkably distinguished career. Perhaps it would enlighten him, and the student editors of professor Barrett’s home university student newspaper, to point them to the opinions of those who know professor Barrett and her work:

• Every full-time member of the Notre Dame Law School faculty signed a letter endorsing professor Barrett’s nomination and speaking in glowing terms of her character, professionalism and absolute fair-mindedness.

• NDLS students have twice voted her as Distinguished Professor of the year, which shows their esteem for professor Barrett as a teacher and mentor, and almost 500 NDLS alumni from across the political spectrum have signed a letter endorsing professor Barrett’s nomination. That letter also speaks glowingly of her character and fair-mindedness.

• Every living law clerk — to all of the Justices, left, right and center — who clerked at the Supreme Court the same year that professor Barrett clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia has endorsed professor Barrett’s nomination.

• Dozens of distinguished legal scholars from across the political spectrum, including President Obama’s acting Solicitor General, have also endorsed professor Barrett’s nomination.

• The American Bar Association evaluated professor Barrett’s professional qualifications and gave her its highest rating of “Well Qualified.”

• Finally, distinguished commentators from across the political spectrum — like professor Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School, and President Christopher Eisgruber of Princeton University, and William Galston of the Brookings Institution, and our own Fr. John Jenkins  — have defended professor Barrett from those questioning whether her Catholicism renders her suspect as a candidate for judicial office.

In the end, the claim that professor Barrett is somehow unfit for office is laughable on its face, and her entire career belies the notion that she will do anything on the bench but follow the rule of law.


Nell Newton

dean of Notre Dame law school

Matt Barrett

professor of law

Paolo Carozza

professor of law

Bill Kelley 

associate professor of law

Jennifer Mason McAward

associate professor of law

The signatories are colleagues of professor Amy Barrett on the Law School faculty. (Matt Barrett is no relation to Amy Coney Barrett.)

Sept. 27

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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