Sunday, September 27, 2020
Washington Post op-ed: I Taught and Worked With Amy Coney Barrett. Here’s What People Get Wrong About Her Faith., by John Garvey (President, Catholic University):
I first met Amy Coney Barrett from behind a veil of academic anonymity.
I was teaching a First Amendment class at Notre Dame Law School. She was a student, just a face in the crowd. On the final exam, someone — the bluebooks were anonymous — had written an answer so impressive that I rushed to share it with one of my colleagues. This student, I said, gave a response to my own question much better than the one I had come up with myself. That student was Amy Coney.
I hired the future judge as my research assistant. ... After she graduated from law school, I wrote a one-line letter of recommendation for her to Justice Antonin Scalia: “Amy Coney is the best student I ever had.” He was wise to hire her as a clerk. ...
I would be astonished if anyone were to oppose her nomination on the basis of character or intellect. Anxiety about her confirmation instead seems driven by the fear that her religious belief is somehow incompatible with the impartiality demanded of a judge. Some have tried to attach a sinister significance to her association with the People of Praise, an ecumenical Christian organization started by Notre Dame students in the 1970s. ...
The organization’s fidelity to traditional Christian teachings rubs some lawmakers the wrong way. ... But the only thing our Constitution said on the subject of religion — before the First Amendment was added — was that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” That has, for more than two centuries, been a guarantee of a tolerant pluralism in our country. The Constitution invites Catholics, evangelicals, Mormons, Jews, Muslims and nonbelievers alike to serve their country, and promises them that they won’t be interrogated about the way they choose to love and serve God.
As a law professor, dean and college president invested in Catholics’ continued service to America, I hope Barrett’s critics will observe this part of our original understanding.