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Three Cheers for Ruth Graham

Judge Amy Coney Barrett during her nomination to the Supreme Court at the White House, September 26, 2020 (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

In her piece in the New York Times today, Ruth Graham captured something quite true: Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination is a cultural moment for conservative women. We don’t like to talk in terms of trailblazing, because these words have ideological implications. But we all remember the “mommy wars” when moms would be asked: “What do you do for a living?” Learning that she was spending some years at home raising children — the most important work in the world — was considered “nothing.”

Anyhow, Ruth Graham’s article today is good, true, and beautiful. I know all of the women quoted in the article, most of them friends and collaborators. They’ve been working in the vineyards, even the youngest, Chelsea Patterson Sobolik, whose life is a testimony to so much we hold dear as conservative women. (We’ve done adoption work together, and will again, I am sure.)

There are many excellent quotes, among them: “She shows that it’s possible for a woman to rise to the top of her profession while having many children,” said Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, a Catholic mother of ten who graduated from Stanford Law School and now serves as director for a conservative legal-advocacy group focusing on religious liberty.

And like Barrett, see how these women aren’t afraid to be confined to talking points or ideological barriers? They can praise and take inspiration from people with whom they disagree on some fundamental issues.

“I found some personal inspiration in Ginsburg — you couldn’t not,” said Mary Hallan FioRito, a conservative Catholic lawyer who graduated from law school in the early 1990s. “She made me know this is possible. It won’t be easy, but it’s possible. Amy Barrett is the perfect replacement for Ginsburg because she, too, in a different way, is saying, ‘This is possible.’”

You don’t, by the way, get much more pro-life than Mary. And with a fullness — and joy.

I’m willing to bet all of the women interviewed — and I know yet others who weren’t quoted, because Graham did a lot of legwork talking to conservative women and knew some of the right people to ask to meet others — have prayed for the repose of the soul of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and have prayed for her family. Now we’re praying that people don’t lose their minds and souls over a coronavirus election year Supreme Court battle.

We’re praying in thanksgiving, too, for Ruth Graham. And, of course, for Amy Coney Barrett and her family.

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