Amy Coney Barrett; Fifth Woman Ever Confirmed to the US Supreme Court

Photo for Justice Amy Coney Barrett story by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

On Oct. 26, Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court, making her one of only five women in history who have served on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Along with being the fifth woman to ever serve, at just 48 years old, Justice Barrett is also the youngest woman ever to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. This is not her only distinction, however; Justice Barrett is also the only mother of school-aged children to serve on the Supreme Court. She is the mother to seven children, ranging in age from 8 to 19 years old, two of which were adopted from Haiti as young children, and one who has Down Syndrome and special needs. Beyond this, Justice Barrett is also the only justice currently serving that did not earn their law degree from Harvard or Yale University.

Justice Barrett earned her law degree from Notre Dame Law School in Indiana in 1997, where she graduated at the top of her class and also served as the executive editor of the Notre Dame Law Review. After graduating and working for some time at a law firm in Washington D.C., she shifted to academia, and eventually returned to Notre Dame Law School in 2002 where she began as an assistant professor and eventually became a full-tenured faculty member. She was known there for her vast knowledge in the subjects of federal courts, constitutional law and statutory interpretation. She was voted Distinguished Professor of the Year three times.

Justice Barrett was nominated by the Trump administration in May of 2017 to serve as a judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Justice Barrett was again nominated by the Trump administration in 2020, following the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to fill the opening that was left on the Supreme Court.

In her past, Justice Barrett served as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whom she has referenced as a significant influence and mentor in her life. She spoke of him in her opening statement entering into her Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“His judicial philosophy was straightforward,” she said. “A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were. Sometimes that approach meant reaching results that he did not like. But as he put it in one of his best known opinions, that is what it means to say we have a government of laws, not of men.”

She later said that she, too, shared this judicial philosophy held by Justice Scalia.

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