Judge Amy Coney Barrett Represents a New, Conservative Feminism

As I write, the third day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings are underway.

Tuesday’s marathon questioning ran the gamut from Democrats pressing Judge Barrett on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), abortion and issues related to LGBT matters.

Through it all, the judge was poised, articulate and clearly in command. It’s obvious to even many of her detractors why she’s held in such high esteem.

Modern-day Supreme Court confirmation hearings have evolved into national platforms for senators to make extended statements as well as ask questions. Some do more of the former than the latter.

Two highpoints of Tuesday’s hearings, though, revolved around the judge’s professional competence and her devotion to her family.

Texas Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) exchange quickly went viral, asking Judge Barrett to hold up her notebook. By now you’ve probably seen that she held up a blank notepad.

Never mind that every senator seated in the horseshoe surrounding her was enveloped in binders and stacks of papers – assembled by multiple staff members and interns.

Throughout the last few days, Judge Barrett has calmly and articulately rattled off by memory thoughts on previously written decisions, historical anecdotes and wide-ranging judicial philosophies.

All the while keeping calm as some members of the committee patronized or subtly sneered at her through veiled insults and accusations. 

But perhaps the most poignant moment came when Judge Barret was asked by Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) about some of the more hurtful things said about her family, particularly the outrageous accusation of a Boston University professor who called the Barretts “white colonizers” for adopting two black children from Haiti.

Judge Barrett responded:

“It was the risk of people saying things like that, which would be so hurtful to my family, that when I told Senator Graham this morning that my husband and I had to really weigh the costs of this,” said Barrett. “It was saying deeply offensive and hurtful things, things that are not only hurtful to me, but are hurtful to my children, who are my children, who we love, and who we brought home and made part of our family.”

“And accusations like that are cruel,” Barrett added.

They’re not only cruel but ignorant and insulting. That professor should be ashamed of himself.

I believe what we’re seeing in Judge Barrett is a new, emerging conservative feminism – and a trend that has been silenced and ignored for far too long.

Judge Barrett currently sits in the spotlight, but women like her have been around for a very long time. 

My own wife, Jean, is a brilliant scientist and taught in a local institution of higher education before stepping away to raise our two boys, Trent and Troy. She had spent years in the classroom and lab, but ultimately decided to devote her full-time energies to making a loving and welcoming home for the four of us.

Judge Barrett is able to juggle multiple tasks because she enjoys the help of her husband, Jesse. While he’s a practicing attorney and former prosecutor, he has flexibility in his schedule that has allowed his wife to teach at Notre Dame Law School and then serve as a federal judge.

The old feminism suggests that men and children are a hindrance – a problem. The new, conservative feminism recognizes that God has gifted the sexes in a way that complements each another. The best marriage is a team approach.

I believe our country is full of women like Amy Coney Barrett – Godly, loving, nurturing, intelligent, capable and energetic.

I’m just grateful one of them will, at long last, soon be on the Supreme Court.

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Jim Daly with Paul Batura

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