By Madelin Shelton —
Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett thinks too many people believe the Supreme Court is highly partisan.
She made an appearance in downtown Louisville Sunday alongside Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at the Seelbach Hilton.
The event was part of the U of L McConnell Center’s 30th anniversary celebration. U of L President Neeli Bendapudi and Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams also attended.
Before introducing Barrett, Senator McConnell praised the justice he is largely responsible for getting on the Supreme Court. “She’s an all-star. She is the only Supreme Court justice to not be from a school named Harvard or Yale,” he said. “She upholds the laws and Constitution as written.”
Justice Barrett expressed her desire that the Supreme Court would not be seen as an overtly partisan institution.
“Politicians have party platforms, judges have judicial philosophies, and these are not the same thing,” she said. “My goal today is to convince you that the Court is not filled with a bunch of partisan hacks,” she later added.
Barrett explained the different judicial philosophies held by the current justices on the Supreme Court, and how these cause them to sometimes come to different conclusions on cases.
However, Barrett said the idea of the Court often being in disagreement is not true, as more than half of all cases on their docket last year were unanimous or near unanimous.
She explained her own judicial philosophy of originalism. That is the idea that laws and the Constitution should be interpreted as written and not based on getting particular outcomes.
Barrett noted that she doesn’t always like the outcomes of her decisions, but her role is to simply interpret the proper application of the law.
She wrapped up by challenging the audience to critique the Supreme Court critically, not simply counting on “hot Twitter takes” and the most recent news headlines to form an opinion of the Court’s latest decisions.
“The measure of judicial decisions is not whether you like the outcome, it’s whether the argument is sound,” she said.
Justice Barrett’s visit came at a unique time, as controversy has surrounded the Court’s recent decision to deny an emergency appeal to block Texas Senate Bill 8, commonly known as the “heartbeat bill.” This bill bans most abortions in the state once a fetal heartbeat is detected.
When asked about the decision in the question and answer portion of the program, Barrett said it would be inappropriate to comment on a case that could eventually make its way before the Supreme Court in the future.
Senator McConnell founded the McConnell Center at U of L in 1991. It provides scholarship opportunities and leadership development to Kentucky students, offers civic education programs, and conducts strategic leadership development for the US Army.
File Photo by Anthony Riley // The Louisville Cardinal