The Corner

Law & the Courts

Notre Dame Liberal-Arts Faculty Ask Barrett to Halt Her Nomination

University of Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind. (Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports)

In an open letter, 88 faculty members at the University of Notre Dame are calling on Judge Amy Coney Barrett to withdraw herself from consideration for the Supreme Court vacancy until after the election.

“It is vital that you issue a public statement calling for a halt to your nomination process until after the November presidential election,” they write, concluding that doing so “might well inspire Americans of different beliefs toward a renewed commitment to the common good.”

What’s most interesting about the letter is the composition of its signatories: To a man, they belong to colleges and departments at the university other than Notre Dame’s law school. Not a single one of Barrett’s faculty colleagues in the law school signed on.

In fact, according to Senator Ben Sasse, when Barrett was nominated to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, she was recommended unanimously by her Notre Dame Law School faculty colleagues.

Just yesterday, 23 of Barrett’s law-school colleagues submitted a letter to the Judiciary Committee commending her Supreme Court nomination. “As a scholarly community, we have divergent political views, as well as commitments to different approaches to judicial methodology and judicial craft,” they wrote, adding:

We also have divergent views about the President, as well as the timing of this confirmation process and its long-term implications for the future of the Supreme Court. We are united, however, in our judgment about Amy. She is a brilliant teacher and scholar, and a warm and generous colleague. She possesses in abundance all of the other qualities that shape extraordinary judges: discipline, intellect, wisdom impeccable temperament, and above all, fundamental decency and humanity.

The dean of Notre Dame’s law school, G. Marcus Cole, offered his own statement after she was nominated, calling Barrett “an absolutely brilliant legal scholar and jurist” and “one of the most popular teachers we have ever had here at Notre Dame Law School.”

Cole added, “Judge Barrett has served our nation with true distinction from the bench, and would continue to do so if she were confirmed to serve on our nation’s highest court.”

This open letter asking her to withdraw from consideration, meanwhile, was signed by Notre Dame faculty who hail from some of the university’s most progressive departments: four from Gender Studies, nine from Anthropology, seven from history, and several from other assorted liberal-arts disciplines.

These faculty members are, of course, entitled to their own opinions. But we shouldn’t be asked to believe that their sentiments reflect in any way on Barrett’s fitness to serve on the Supreme Court.

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