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Amy Coney Barrett pays homage to conservative mentor Antonin Scalia — ‘His judicial philosophy is mine too’

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on September 26, 2020.

Olivier Douliery | AFP | Getty Images

Judge Amy Coney Barrett laid out her conservative judicial philosophy for the nation Saturday in remarks delivered after she was formally nominated for the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump. 

Barrett paid homage to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who led the conservative wing of the high court before his death in 2016, describing him as her mentor.

“I clerked for Justice Scalia more than twenty years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate,” Barrett said at an event hosted at the White House Rose Garden. 

Barrett, a former Notre Dame law professor, drew clear comparisons between her approach to the law and Scalia’s, saying “his judicial philosophy is mine too.” 

 “A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they may hold,” she said. 

Barrett also praised the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose vacant seat she will fill if confirmed by the Senate. She described Ginsburg as a trailblazer for women and praised her friendship with Scalia despite their deep philosophical differences. 

“Justices Scalia and Ginsburg disagreed fiercely in print without rancor in person. Their ability to maintain a warm and rich friendship, despite their differences, even inspired an opera,” Barrett said. 

Barrett is a conservative 48-year-old federal appeals court judge widely favored by social conservatives and the religious right. Her confirmation by the Senate to replace Ginsburg, a feminist icon and leader of the liberal wing of the court, would solidify a 6-3 Republican majority on the Court. 

Barrett is essentially the ideological opposite of Ginsburg, who sat on the bench for 27 years.

“Should I be confirmed, I will be mindful of who came before me,” Barrett said of Ginsburg. “She not only broke glass ceilings, she smashed them, and for that she has won the admiration of women across the country.” 

The rush by Senate Republicans to confirm a justice to the court only 38 days before a presidential election is unprecedented in U.S. history. Justices have been approved during previous presidential election years, though none have been voted on this close to election day.  

President Trump has made it clear that he wants to push his nominee through the Senate before election day. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has enough votes to push the nomination through if the timing works and has said there is enough time to do so.

The GOP’s push to fill the vacancy has angered Democrats who argue that whoever wins the election should select Ginsburg’s replacement. 

Regarding the confirmation process, Trump said during the event that it should be “straightforward and prompt.”

“I’m sure it will be extremely non-controversial. We said that last time, didn’t we?” Trump said with sarcasm, alluding to the controversial and bitter confirmation process for Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 

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