Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Liberal Legal All-Stars on Barrett’s ‘Remarkable Intellect and Character’

In 2017, every single Supreme Court law clerk who clerked the same term (October Term 1998) that Amy Coney Barrett clerked for Justice Scalia signed a letter supporting her nomination to the Seventh Circuit. In that letter, the signatories hailed Barrett as a “woman of remarkable intellect and character,” as someone who “conducted herself with professionalism, grace, and integrity” and “was able to work collaboratively with her colleagues (even those with whom she disagreed) on challenging legal questions,” and as “smart, honorable, and fair-minded.”

The signatories include some leading figures in liberal academia: Stanford law school dean Jennifer Martinez, Harvard law professor Noah Feldman, Yale law professor Oona Hathaway, and Stanford law professor Jeffrey Fisher.

To be clear, I am not maintaining that this letter means or even remotely implies that these academics should or will support Barrett if she is nominated to the Supreme Court. Among other things, it’s entirely reasonable to give heavier weight to ideological considerations for a Supreme Court seat, and the letter itself is carefully crafted as only an endorsement for the appellate bench.

That said, the glowing assessments that the signatories offered of Barrett’s intellect and character remain noteworthy. While it’s in theory possible that one of more of the signatories has now developed a different view of Barrett, I’m not aware of any reason why that might be the case.


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