Amy Coney Barrett pays homage to conservative mentor Antonin Scalia — 'His judicial philosophy is mine too'

Key Points
  • Barrett, a former Notre Dame law professor, drew clear comparisons between her legal philosophy and Scalia's, saying "his judicial philosophy is mine too." 
  • Barrett clerked for Scalia, who led the conservative wing of the Supreme Court before his death in 2016, and described him as her mentor. 
  •  "A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they may hold," she said. 
Judge Amy Coney Barrett is nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on September 26, 2020.
Olivier Douliery | AFP | Getty Images

Judge Amy Coney Barrett laid out her judicial philosophy Saturday in remarks delivered after she was formally nominated for the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump, sending a clear signal that she will take a conservative approach to the law in the same vein as Justice Antonin Scalia.  

Barrett paid homage to Scalia, praising the late justice as her mentor. Scalia led the conservative wing of the high court before his death in 2016 and was a frequent target of liberal ire. 

"I clerked for Justice Scalia more than twenty years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate," Barrett said after she was introduced by Trump at the White House Rose Garden. 

 A former Notre Dame law professor, Barrett drew clear comparisons between her approach to the law and Scalia's, saying "his judicial philosophy is mine too." Her praise for Scalia will rally conservatives and anger liberals as the Senate prepares for a fierce election year confirmation battle.

 "A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they may hold," Barrett said. 

Scalia, nominated in 1986 under President Ronald Reagan, was the court's most influential conservative. He was an opponent of gay rights, affirmative action and abortion rights, and said that the landmark case of Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. 

Barrett also praised the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose vacant seat she will fill if confirmed by the Senate. She described Ginsburg as a trailblazer for women and praised her friendship with Scalia despite their deep philosophical differences. 

"Justices Scalia and Ginsburg disagreed fiercely in print without rancor in person. Their ability to maintain a warm and rich friendship, despite their differences, even inspired an opera," Barrett said. 

Barrett is a conservative 48-year-old federal appeals court judge widely favored by social conservatives and the religious right. Her confirmation by the Senate to replace Ginsburg, a feminist icon and leader of the liberal wing of the court, would solidify a 6-3 Republican majority on the Court. 

Amy Coney Barrett speaks after Trump announces her nomination for Supreme Court

Barrett is essentially the ideological opposite of Ginsburg, who sat on the bench for 27 years.

"Should I be confirmed, I will be mindful of who came before me," Barrett said of Ginsburg. "She not only broke glass ceilings, she smashed them, and for that she has won the admiration of women across the country." 

The rush by Senate Republicans to confirm a justice to the court only 38 days before a presidential election is unprecedented in U.S. history. Justices have been approved during previous presidential election years, though none have been voted on this close to election day.  

President Trump has made it clear that he wants to push his nominee through the Senate before election day. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has enough votes to push the nomination through if the timing works and has said there is enough time to do so.

The GOP's push to fill the vacancy has angered Democrats who argue that whoever wins the election should select Ginsburg's replacement. 

Regarding the confirmation process, Trump said during the event that it should be "straightforward and prompt."

"I'm sure it will be extremely non-controversial. We said that last time, didn't we?" Trump said with sarcasm, alluding to the controversial and bitter confirmation process for Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) arrives to introduce 7th U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House September 26, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images