It’s possible that if Donald J. Trump were not president, COVID-19 not such an intensifying factor and the Democratic Party less deranged, Amy Coney Barrett would not be a controversial U.S. Supreme Court nominee. Indeed, in a healthier America, her profile would attract bipartisan praise.
But we are not so blessed at the moment, so instead, this mother of seven, with impeccable judicial credentials and an abiding sense of faith in the divine, has been subjected to the bad, the ugly and the bizarre of questioning during her confirmation hearing. Sen. Mazie Hirono, Hawaii Democrat, wins first prize for asking Judge Barrett the following: “Since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors, or committed any physical or verbal harassment or assault of a sexual nature?” (Her answer, if there was any doubt, was “No.”)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat, used his time not to put any questions to the nominee, but to present what appeared to be a conspiracy theory about dark money behind Republican judicial nominees he called “The Scheme.” This is the same Mr. Whitehouse, who in the past has had the aroma of insider trading about him, and is the scion of a vastly wealthy American family. He provided everyone with a good laugh.
Throughout, Judge Barrett kept her poise, answered calmly and with a smile, all without the aid of notes. How she has been able to raise, from all appearances a wonderful, loving brood, and still make it (so far) to the anteroom of the Supreme Court, should be a source of great pride for our country.
That the opposite has occurred cannot simply be blamed on political in-fighting. Insofar as our legislators are a reflection of our values, it seems a large portion of America has lost its ability to recognize — and praise — genuine goodness and accomplishment. In their view, the corporate working mother — imagine, say, Sheryl Sandberg — should be revered for leaning in and putting herself first. These people see children as harmful to the environment and impediments to a woman’s (and man’s) career. And faith in God is viewed with even less regard.
Judge Barrett explodes these misguided conceptions. She demonstrates that you can have a large family and lead a successful career. She shows how a belief in God sustains and enriches one’s world. And by all this, she is a living testament to young women everywhere that there is a new face of American jurisprudence, one who will soon be sitting on the Supreme Court.