Opinion: Why Coloradans should rally behind Judge Amy Coney Barrett

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It’s tempting to buy in to the partisanship that is ripping our country apart. Today, that includes deeply personal and anti-religious attacks on Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett and her family.

It’s all about power. It is happening, and it is wrong; it’s not what’s in the best interests of America.

Colorado is unique, we are closely divided among Republican, Democratic and unaffiliated voters. But, more importantly, there is far more that unites us as Coloradans than there is that divides us. One of Colorado’s cherished values is fairness.

Jane Norton

The president has nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. A president has the right, pursuant to Article II, Section II, of the U.S. Constitution to nominate a Supreme Court justice if there is a vacancy.

Indeed, every single time there has been an opening on the Supreme Court in the final year of a president’s term, the president then in office has put forward a nominee.

The Constitution provides that a Supreme Court nominee may be appointed only with the “advice and consent of the Senate.”

An individual senator may vote to confirm or not to confirm for any reason or no reason. But some reasons are, or at least ought to be, off limits. Attacking a person’s faith is one of those improper reasons. Likewise trying to demonize a nominee or, worse yet, that nominee’s family and children, is abhorrent to our civilized society.

The confirmation of a U.S. Supreme Court nominee depends on the balance of power in Washington, D.C. If the party that controls the White House also controls the U.S. Senate, the nominee is likely to be confirmed. Indeed, in our history, only one such nominee has not been so confirmed and, in that case, a scandal resulted in the disqualification of the nominee.

Likewise, when the White House and the Senate are held by different parties, the majority of the time, the nominee has not been confirmed.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

This feature of our constitutional republic — three branches of government acting independently and as a check on each other — should be celebrated, not demeaned. This is how our system of government was designed to work, and this is exactly how it does work.

The Constitution is clear and, with history as our guide, responsible news media and reasonable Coloradans should ignore criticisms of Judge Barrett’s faith and family. Those cries are nonsense.

To his credit, in the days following Judge Barrett’s nomination, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said, “…not a single Democrat will make these attacks or make personal, religious beliefs an issue … Republicans invented this concern.…”

Unfortunately, this has not been true. That is exactly what several Senate Democrats have been doing — questioning both Judge Barrett’s faith and her family. One senator has questioned Judge Barrett’s ability to look past her personal “closely held” views to rule impartially.

Those who attack a nominee over the nominee’s faith, whether in the Senate, in the media, or elsewhere, sadly ignore Article VI of the Constitution which provides that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Like most Coloradans, I love my country and I love the Constitution. These personal, ad hominem attacks sadden me. They are irresponsible and reprehensible and should not stand.

Judge Barrett is clearly a person of faith and she is proud of her family. Indeed, if confirmed, she will be the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court with school-age children. She has also built a highly successful legal career because of her remarkable intellect, her character and her commitment to the law.

Her former students, her peers and Judge Barrett herself have told us just what kind of a superb justice on the U.S. Supreme Court she will be.  

A half dozen former students of then-professor Barrett told America that Judge Barrett impressed upon them “the necessity of setting personal beliefs aside when evaluating the answer to a legal question.”

Noah Feldman, an acknowledged liberal and Harvard law professor who clerked with Judge Barrett on the Supreme Court over 20 years ago wrote, “I know her to be a brilliant and conscientious lawyer who will analyze and decide cases in good faith, applying the jurisprudential principles to which she is committed.”

It is Judge Barrett’s record that our senators must weigh. I know Sen. Cory Gardner, an effective leader and good person, will evaluate Judge Barrett on her merits, including her public record as a scholar and a circuit court judge. I urge Sen. Michael Bennet to do the same.

Soon-to-be Justice Amy Coney Barrett may have a different background and philosophy than did the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Frankly, I celebrate that fact.

And, importantly, this seat on the Supreme Court belongs to America, not to one political party. Not all women are required to think and believe the same, no matter what left-wing politicians or some in the media say.

Judge Barrett has earned the respect of her legal peers. In just a few days, tens of millions of Americans will witness a strong, highly competent and accomplished woman as she takes center-stage in our country in the process of becoming the next associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. That should make all Americans – men and women alike – proud.


Jane Norton, a native of Grand Junction, served as the 46th Lt. Governor of Colorado and was a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010.


The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com.

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