Amy Coney Barrett on Originalism: ‘You Would Not Be Getting Justice Scalia. You Would Be Getting Justice Barrett’

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

Judge Amy Coney Barrett explained the judicial philosophies of originalism and textualism during her Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Tuesday, adding that Americans should expect her to express her own views within those approaches.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked Barrett to explain originalism “in English.”

She replied: “In English, that means that I interpret the Constitution as a law, that I interpret its text as text, and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. So that meaning doesn’t change over time, and it’s not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it.”

Graham then asked about Barrett’s close intellectual identification with the the late Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked.

“People say that you’re a ‘female Scalia.’ What would you say?” he asked.

She replied:

I would say that Justice Scalia was obviously a mentor, snd as I said when I accepted the president’s nomination, that his philosophy is mine, too. You know, he was a very eloquent defender of originalism, and that was also true of textualism, which is the way that I approach statutes and their interpretation. And similarly to what I just said about originalism, for textualism, the judge approaches the text, as it was written, with the meaning it had at the time, and doesn’t infuse her own meaning into it.

However, Judge Barrett added: “I want to be careful to say that if I’m confirmed you would not be getting Justice Scalia. You would be getting Justice Barrett. And that’s so because originalists don’t always agree, and neither do textualists. … It’s not a mechanical exercise.”

She pointed out that Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas, both originalists, often disagreed.

Barrett has been nominated to replace the last Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away last month.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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