Dozens of Amy Coney Barrett's Notre Dame colleagues ask her to stop her nomination

Dozens of Amy Coney Barrett's Notre Dame colleagues ask her to stop her nomination
White House

Amy Coney Barrett has failed to disclose an awful lot of documents to the Senate in her nomination to the Supreme Court. This is probably one of them: a letter from 88 of her Notre Dame colleagues, dated October 10, asking her to withdraw at least temporarily from consideration for the position.

They congratulate her on the nomination and pretty much inevitable confirmation. That part of it—the inevitability—is why they write this open letter. "That is why it is vital that you issue a public statement calling for a halt to your nomination process until after the November presidential election." Because "while we are not pundits, from what we read your confirmation is all but assured." That's a problem for several reasons, which they clearly delineate and which all come down to the fact that this seat is sullied by circumstance and will forever have an asterisk attached.

Number, one, people are voting right now. "The rushed nature of your nomination process, which you certainly recognize as an exercise in raw power politics, may effectively deprive the American people of a voice in selecting the next Supreme Court justice," they write. Not that they're holding her responsible for any of this, they say, even "the Republican hypocrisy of fast-tracking your nomination weeks before a presidential election when many of the same senators refused to grant Merrick Garland so much as a hearing a full year before the last election." But, "you can refuse to be party to such maneuvers," they suggested and then following the election, "your nomination would proceed, or not, in accordance with the wishes of the winning candidate."

Next, they say, Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dying wish was that her seat not be filled until after this election. They remind Barrett that she referred to RBG in her nominating ceremony and that she praised RBG as "a woman of enormous talent and consequence, whose life of public service serves as an example to us all." So live up to that, they imply. "Your nomination just days after Ginsburg's death was unseemly and a repudiation of her legacy. Given your admiration for Justice Ginsburg, we ask that you repair the injury to her memory by calling for a pause in the nomination until the next president is seated."

Finally, they remind her that this is "a treacherous moment" for the country. "Our politics are consumed by polarization, mistrust, and fevered conspiracy theories," the faculty write. "Our country is shaken by pandemic and economic suffering. There is violence in the streets of American cities. The politics of your nomination, as you surely understand, will further inflame our civic wounds, undermine confidence in the court, and deepen the divide among ordinary citizens, especially if you are seated by a Republican Senate weeks before the election of a Democratic president and congress." She can be an "alternative to all that" by doing the right thing and halting this nomination.

What's in it for her, though likely not a seat on the Supreme Court the faculty acknowledge, is "the respect of fair-minded people everywhere." By risking this seat, she could "provide a model of civic selflessness. And you might well inspire Americans of different beliefs toward a renewed commitment to the common good." That, after all, should be the highest goal of all for someone aspiring to so lofty a seat as this. There is an undercurrent to the whole letter, though, of these 88 faculty member realizing she doesn't have the character to do any of this but hoping that they can appeal to something in her, if not her sense of her own legacy.

Notably, none of the faculty who signed are from the law school, but also notably, two are from the Theology department. Which says something about this devoutly religious nominee and the Catholic university they all represent.

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