Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in by Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday night amid whoops and cheers from the audience on the White House lawn. After President Trump opened the proceedings with a speech, Justice Thomas swore Barrett in, and Barrett followed with a speech in which she vowed, “I will do my job without any fear or favor,” adding, “I love the Constitution and the democratic republic that it establishes, and I will devote myself to preserving it.”
President Trump began, “This is a momentous day for America, the United States Constitution, and for the fair and impartial rule of law. The Constitution is the ultimate defense of American liberty; the faithful application of the law is the cornerstone of the Republic. That is why, as president, I have no more solemn obligation and no greater honor than to appoint Supreme Court Justices.”
He said of Barrett, “She is one of our nation’s most brilliant legal scholars and she will make an outstanding Justice on the highest court in our land. Justice Barrett’s oath will be administered by the Court’s longest serving member currently on the bench; a man whose allegiance to the law has earned him the respect and the gratitude of all Americans: Justice Clarence Thomas.”
After thanking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Judiciary Chairman, Lindsey Graham, GOP senators, Vice President Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Trump drew a laugh from Barrett when he acknowledged her seven children, asserting, “They’ve become very popular in this nation.”
Trump also stated, “But I speak to everyone when I say that the Barrett family has captured America’s heart; it is highly fitting that Justice Barrett fills the seat of a true pioneer for women: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”
Trump noted that Barrett was the first Justice in American history to serve on the court as a mother with school-age children. He noted, in a statement that was a tribute to conservatism, “Justice Barrett made clear she will issue rulings based solely upon a faithful reading of the law and the Constitution as written, not legislate from the bench.”
After Barrett took the oath from Justice Thomas, she gave a prepared speech:
Thank you. Thank you so very much. Thank you all for being here tonight, and thank you, President Trump, for selecting me to serve as an Associate Justice at the United States Supreme Court. It’s a privilege to be asked to serve my country in this office. I stand here tonight truly honored and humbled. Thanks also to the Senate for giving its consent to my appointment. I am grateful for the confidence you have expressed in me and I pledge to you and the American people that I will discharge my duties to the very best of my ability.
This was a vigorous confirmation process, and I thank all of you; especially Leader McConnell and Chairman Graham for helping to navigate it. My heartfelt thanks go out to the members of the White House Staff and Department of Justice, who worked tirelessly to help to support me through this process. Your stamina has been remarkable and I have been the beneficiary of it. Jesse and I are also so grateful to the many people who have supported our family over these last several weeks. Through ways both tangible and intangible, you have made this day possible. Jesse and I have been truly awestruck by your generosity.
I have spent a good amount of time over the last month at the Senate; both in meetings with individual senators and in days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The confirmation process has made ever-clearer to me one of the fundamental differences between the federal judiciary and the United States Senate, and perhaps the most acute is the role of policy preferences. It is the job of a senator to pursue her policy preferences; in fact, it would be a dereliction of duty to put policy goals aside.
By contrast, it is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences. It would be a dereliction of duty for her to give in to them. Federal judges don’t stand for election, thus they have no basis for claiming that their preferences reflect those of the people. This separation of duty from political preference is what makes the judiciary distinct among the three branches of government. A judge declares independence not only from Congress and the president, but also from the private beliefs that might otherwise move her. The judicial oath captures the essence of the judicial duty; the rule of law must always control.
My fellow Americans, even though we judges don’t face elections, we still work for you. It is your Constitution that establishes the rule of law and the judicial independence that is so central to it., The oath that I have solemnly taken tonight means at its core that I will do my job without any fear or favor and that I will do so independent of both the political branches and my own preferences. I love the Constitution and the democratic republic that it establishes, and I will devote myself to preserving it. Thank you.
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